PACE says that 'nobody should die in detention'

PACE Standing Committee, meeting in Sofia, said today that “nobody should die in detention” and recalled the right to equivalent medical care for detainees. “All member States should ensure that every detainee is afforded the basic human dignity of dying outside of prison,” it underlined.

Adopting a resolution based on a report drawn up by Andreas Gross (Switzerland, SOC), the parliamentarians regretted the legal and practical barriers to prisoners’ access to critical medical care and to the compassionate release of elderly or terminally ill prisoners.

The text expresses concern over information referring to “the inappropriate use of handcuffs on immobile, comatose, dying, or even dead detainees, which draw attention to the alarming practices in some member States”. It specifically mentions Turkey, Romania and Montenegro and itemises a series of measures which these countries should take.

The Assembly expressed its concern over restrictive practices for granting compassionate release, “often based on unsettled and subjective criteria or recommendations from medical professionals who are not independent of the prison system or the executive”.

The resolution particularly asks European governments to provide processes for requesting (temporary) compassionate release. This would enable seriously ill prisoners to receive specialised medical attention and elderly or terminally ill detainees to die with dignity outside prison.