18 February 1993

Doc. 6775



on the improvement of prison conditions in Europe

presented by the Earl of DUNDEE and others

1.       Whereas the number of prisoners is increasing in most Council of Europe member states, prison facilities have been lagging behind and it can now be said that there is need for considerable improvement of prison conditions.

2.       In fact, a number of alarming inadequacies in our prison systems have been highlighted by recent reports made by the Council of Europe's Committee on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

3.       The deterioration of prison conditions is not only due to lack of cells and adequate prison equipment, but many prisons are also understaffed with a result that frequently, prison facilities such as workshops, recreation hours, libraries, etc. have to be reduced or even completely suspended.

4.       Prison sentences mean being deprived of liberty but the conditions under which they take place should not be unduly harsh and constitute an additional sanction.

5.       The conditions of young or first offenders and detainees awaiting trial is a matter of particular concern. There is also good reason to look into the situation of non-violent criminals and fine defaulters.

6.       It is, of course, obvious that if one arrives at reducing the prison population, money would be saved which could be spent on improving the prison system.

7.       For these reasons, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers invite the governments of the member states:

i.       to strictly apply the Council of Europe's Prison Rules of 12 February 1987;

ii.       to implement the recommendations of the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

8.       The Assembly also recommends that the Committee of Ministers make a thorough study of:

i       the possibilities for improving the criminal justice system with a view to reducing the prison population;

ii.       the conditions and situation of prison staff.

      Signed:       Dundee, Rathbone, Hĺvik, Fleetwood, Özver, Hooper, Ragnarsdottir, Nybakk, Gusenbauer, Ternak, Cimoszewicz, Banks, Halonen, Ferris, Franck.