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Strasbourg, 7 January/janvier

CCPE(2011)1 PROV2



with a view to the preparation of the

on the relationships between prosecutors and prison administration, in particular in the light of the Recommendation Rec(2006)2 on the European prison rules





This questionnaire is addressed to prosecutors and the member of the CCPE of each State shall be responsible for collecting of replies.

In some States, prosecutors have only reduced powers within matters of prison administration. Some States will therefore not be able to reply to all questions.

It will not be implied from the fact that this questionnaire was answered that prosecutiors shall have a role in this matter.

The scope of the questionnaire is identical to that of Recommendation Rec(2006)2 (see para.10): this questionnaire concerns any person deprived of liberty, in any form whatsoever and not strictly the person detained in a prison.

This questionnaire does not concern the enforcement of sanctions in general but is limited to the prosecutor’s supervision of the legality of the enforcement of sanctions.

Ce questionnaire s’adresse aux procureurs et le membre du CCPE au titre de chaque Etat est responsable de la collecte des rponses.

Dans certains Etats, les procureurs ont peu de comptences en matire d’administration pnitentiaire. Certains Etats ne pourront donc pas rpondre toutes les questions.

Le fait de rpondre ce questionnaire ne sous-entend pas que les procureurs doivent avoir un rle en la matire.

Le champ d’application du questionnaire est le mme que celui de la Recommandation Rec(2006)2 (voir para.10) : ce questionnaire concerne toute personne prive de libert, sous quelque forme que ce soit, et non simplement de la personne dtenue dans un tablissement pnitentiaire.

Ce questionnaire ne concerne pas l’excution des sanctions de manire gnrale et se limite au contrle de la lgalit de l’excution des sanctions par le procureur.

Question 2

What are the Prosecution Service’s powers regarding prison matters and in terms of deprivation of liberty?

The constitutional role of Spanish prosecutors include “to promote the action of Justice in defence of legality, of the citizen’s rights and of the public interest as defined by law, ex officio or upon request” (art. 124 of the Constitution) and the Act on prosecutors includes to defend and protect fundamental rights as well as to ensure the proper execution of judicial decisions (arts 3.3 and 3.9 of the Act).

Art. 4 of the Act on prosecutors provides for the right of prosecutors to “visit detention or penitentiary centers of any kind at any moment within the territory of its competence, to examine the files and documents and to request as much information as he may deem necessary” as well as to request the notification of any judicial decision or information about the situation of proceedings, in order to be able to ensure its proper enforcement.

This status enables the prosecutor to come to know any decision which implies preliminary or definitive measures restricting rights as well as to carry inspection visits to all detention centers throughout the country (penitentiary, police, minors, foreigners, etc.) in which he/she can review all documents, request documentation that may not be available on the spot, and conduct reserved interviews with inmates or detainees. These visits can be conducted without prior notification to the centers.

Quelles sont les comptences du Ministre public en matire pnitentiaire et en matire de privation de libert ?

Question 3

In States where prosecutors do not have full authority in prison matters, what are nevertheless their means of action used as regards prisons ?


Dans les Etats dans lesquels les procureurs n’ont pas de comptence gnrale en matire de prisons, quels sont nanmoins les moyens d’action dont ils disposent concernant les systmes pnitentiaires ?

Question 4

If prosecutors have general competences as regard prisons and detention, what kind of means have been provided to the Prosecution Service to allow its effective and fast action towards protecting human rights in matters of prison administration?

Being one of the constitutional functions of the prosecution service the control of detention and deprivation of liberty, all means put at the service of this institution can be used for this purpose, including the possibility to issue orders to police in order to investigate any actions the prosecutor may consider to be a criminal offence.

Si les procureurs sont comptents en matire de prisons et de dtention, quels sont les moyens disposition du Ministre public pour lui permettre d’agir efficacement et rapidement pour protger les droits de l’homme en matire d’administration pnitentiaire ?

Question 5

What are the positive and decisive elements of the prosecutor’s role in terms of protecting Human rights compared to other mechanisms of legal protection?

The prosecutor is entitled to promote the habeas corpus proceedings if he finds out someone is illegally deprived from his/her liberty, and can also trigger criminal actions and/or investigations to establish whether criminal liability is to be attributed to anyone for this. He/she can also send information about the irregularities detected to the administration so that disciplinary measures can be adopted; or to the judicial authorities for correction of conditions of the imprisonment, if the case may be.

All actions taken by the prosecutor have the presumption of authenticity, according to the general rule established by art. 5 Act on Prosecutors.

Prosecutors have also the possibility to present to the public through the media whatever cases or situations that may be required, always respecting the confidentiality and/or secrecy of proceedings.

The Ombudsman has also the possibility to visit penitentiary and detention centers and to promote the habeas corpus, but not to act before the investigating judge (judicial authority controlling the laglity of centers for foreigners) or before the penitentiary judge (judge in control of execution of penalties depriving of liberty). For this, the Ombudsman would need to ask for the cooperation of the prosecutor.

Quels sont les lments positifs et dterminants du rle du procureur en matire de protection des droits de l’homme, par rapport aux autres mcanismes de protection juridique ?

Question 6

What could be the improvements to this system of protection?

One possibility would be to add to the traditional information of rights every detained persons must receive, information concerning specific rights in relation with his/her condition of being deprived of liberty, that is, to inform about the right to formulate complaints as regards the way in which detention or prison is being carried out, as well as who are the competent authorities the person can address when formulating these complaints (director of penitentiary administration, prosecutor, ombudsman, etc). The Spanish systems contemplates this as regards retention centres for foreigners but not as a general rule for all persons deprived form liberty.

Quels sont les amliorations qui pourraient tre apportes ce systme de protection ?

Question 7

Do prosecutors have jurisdiction to examine whether the rights (Human rights and especially procedural rights) of persons in criminal (for example as regards enforcement of prison sentences or pre-trial detention) or administrative detention are respected at the detention centre?

Yes, as explained above.

Le procureur a-t-il comptence pour examiner si les droits (droits de l’homme et en particulier droits procduraux) des personnes dtenues ou retenues (par exemple en matire d’excution de peines de prison ou de dtention provisoire) sont respects au centre de dtention?

Question 8

Can a prisoner meet in private with a prosecutor to determine whether they had been subjected to torture or to any other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment?

Yes, as explained above. During meetings with the inmates or detainees, only the prosecutor and the concerned person are present. Any inmate or detainee can ask to see the prosecutor this way, and can also address petitions, requests or complaints. They receive a stamped copy of their request in order to have a proof that their petition has been forwarded to and received by the prosecutor. This is also annotated in Official Register Book containing all petitions sent by inmates to any Authority.

Les dtenus peuvent-ils avoir une entrevue en tte--tte avec le procureur pour savoir s’ils ont t exposs un acte de torture ou tout autre peine ou traitement inhumain ou dgradant ?

Question 9

Do prosecutors examine, and if so, how frequently, whether the accomodation provided to prisoners meet the recommendations of the Council of Europe (and namely of the European Committee for the prevention of Torture/CPT1? Can prosecutors make proposals in that direction which have an influence on the relevant budget ?

Yes, as explained above.

Le procureur examine-t-il, le cas chant quelle frquence, si l’hbergement des dtenus respecte les recommandations du Conseil de l’Europe (et en particulier du Comit europen pour la prvention de la torture/CPT)1 ?
Le procureur peut-il faire des propositions en ce sens ayant une influence sur le budget concern ?

Question 10

What kind of means exist for prosecutors to deal with authorities or officers/employees which have not completely or properly enforced the decisions of the court or the Prosecution Service related to punishments and/or measures involving deprivation of liberty? If a prosecutor detects such negligence, is he entitled to give binding instructions for the immediate termination of the breach of law? Is it in their power to initiate criminal or disciplinary proceedings, actions for damages or any other kind of impeachment? What other prosecutorial instruments are at his disposal ?

Prosecutors can adress the Administration Directive Center with competence over the concrete penitentiary or detention center in order to inform about irregularities, suggest their removal and ask for disciplinary proceedings to start. Prosecutors can also do the follow up of this mechanism, asking for updated information.

The possibility to open criminal investigation has already been analysed before.

De quels moyens dispose le procureur l’encontre des autorits ou agents qui n’excutent pas compltement ou correctement les dcisions du tribunal ou du procureur concernant les sanctions et/ou les mesures privatives de libert ? Si le procureur dtecte une ngligence, peut-il donner des instructions contraignantes visant faire cesser immdiatement l’infraction la loi ? Peut-il initier une procdure pnale ou disciplinaire, une action en rparation ou tout autre type d’action en contestation ? Quels sont les autres instruments d’action publique sa disposition  ?

Question 11

How often do prosecutors carry out monitoring visits of institutions of criminal and administrative detention? Are there concrete follow-ups related to these visits?

According to internal instructions given by the Prosecutor General, visits to penitentiary centers are due at least every second month, although in practice most prosecutor’s offices carry them out weekly. This is also applicable in case of minors and foreigners.
No rules are set as to visits to Police detention centers, so prosecutors can carry them out whenever they want to. In practice, the limit for detention (72 hours) and judicial control ensure that conditions will be met.

Quelle est la frquence des visites de contrle du procureur dans les lieux de dtention et de rtention? Ces visites peuvent-elles faire l’objet d’un suivi concret ?

Question 12

Within the framework of their monitoring duties, do prosecutors have the power to take action at any time of the day (even at night) in the institutions of criminal and administrative detention?

Yes, as indicated above.

Le procureur a-t-il la possibilit d’intervenir toute heure (mme la nuit) dans le lieu de dtention et de rtention dans le cadre de sa tche d’inspection?

Question 13

May prosecutors commission experts to assist them in their tasks related to supervision and inspection?

Yes. Prosecutors are assisted by interpreters and coroners (medical experts) whenever is needed. If any other sort of exerts would be required, prosecutors are entitled to seek their cooperation.

Pour leurs tches de contrle et d’inspection, les procureurs ont-ils la possibilit de recourir des experts ?

Question 14

Are complaints and/or denunciations regarding criminal and administrative detention subject to prosecutorial inquiry independently of any relevant authority or employees/officers? Is it a prosecutor’s duty to complete investigations himself/herself or is he/she allowed to forward these complaints for investigation to the officers/employees that are the subject of those complaints?

The Prosecution Service can receive complaints to trigger its action, after which it can decide to submit the results to the administrative authority in order to seek administrative liability of the officials investigated, to submit the results to the investigative judge in order to open criminal proceedings, or to dismiss the case. During the phase of this pretrial investigation, the prosecutor can adopt any investigative measures except for those affecting fundamental rights. If the prosecutor comes to know that an investigative judge has opened an investigation over the same facts, must immediately stop its investigation and send everything that was achieved to the investigative judge.

Les plaintes et/ou dnonciations concernant la dtention et la rtention font-elles l’objet d’investigations par le procureur, indpendamment des autorits ou des agents concerns?Le procureur a-t-il le devoir d’enquter lui-mme ou peut-il transmettre les plaintes pour enqute aux agents qui sont l’objet de la plainte ?

Question 15

In case of sudden death, accident or criminal offence committed against a prisoner, or if a prisoner commits a crime against another prisoner or a prison staff member, is the investigation conducted by a prosecutor acting as an independent judicial authority or is it simply supervised by a prosecutor? Do prosecutors have any role in investigations?

In the Spanish system the ordinary authority for investigating criminal facts is the investigative judge, although the prosecutor can conduct pretrial investigation as long as no judge has opened an investigation over the same facts. However, in the case of offences allegedly committed by minors, the competent authority is the prosecutor, not the investigative judge.

En cas de dcs subit, d’accident ou d’infraction pnale l’encontre du dtenu, ou si celui-ci commet un crime l’encontre d’un autre dtenu ou d’un agent de l’administration pnitentiaire, l’affaire est-elle instruite par le procureur en tant qu’instance judiciaire indpendante ou est-elle simplement contrle par le procureur ? Les procureurs ont-ils un rle quelconque dans l’enqute ?

Question 16

Are prosecutors entitled to take action in procedures concerning the adoption/revocation of special measures for high risk detaineed or subject to special restrictions in connection with their role and position in active criminal organisations? If so, how?

In the Spanish system, the decision about putting an inmate under the highest security controls corresponds to the Penitentiary Administration, but must be communicated to the penitentiary judge (art. 76.2j) of the Penitentiary Act) who can accept it or reverse it. It is during this phase before the judge wjhere the prosecutor comes to know about the penitentiary decision and must express its opinion on the matter. The prosecutor can also appeal the decision of the judge in case it is contrary to the prosecutor’s opinion.

A similar system is in place as regards other limitations put on normal rights of the inmate when it is considered necessary by the Administration in order to better protect his/her life or integrity.

Although it is not specifically regulated, in case a prosecutor comes to know facts which may deem relevant for the Administration in order to consider the adoption of the above mentioned decisions, nothing prevents the prosecutor from transmitting this information to the Administration.

Le procureur peut-il intervenir, et le cas chant de quelle manire, dans des procdures concernant l’adoption/la rvocation de mesures spciales pour les dtenus haut risque ou soumis des restrictions spcifiques en raison de leur rle et leur position dans les organisations criminelles actives ?

Question 17

With a view to preserving them from any type of influence, are prosecutors autonomous or subordinated to other colleagues when monitoring the detention’s legality?

Prosecutors are autonomous and subject to the legality principle, although also subject to hierarchical dependence from his superior. The Constitution considers legality and impartiality principles as preferent when conflicting whith hierarchy or the principle of action. The Act on prosecutors stipulates mechanisms for a prosecutor to oppose orders deemed against law or inadequate, calling for a board of prosecutors to discuss the matter. In case of discrepancy the opinion of the higher prosecutor prevails.

Afin de les protger contre toute forme d’influence, les procureurs exercent-ils de manire autonome le contrle de la lgalit de la dtention ou sont-ils subordonns d’autres collgues?

Question 18

Is a prosecutor involved in granting a person’s pardon, amnesty or release, especially in the case of negative effects resulting from the punishment? Do prosecutors supervise criminal records?

The prosecutor must express its opinion on every case of pardon and must assess whether there are reasons based on Justice r equity to justify it. In case of inmates serving a term of conviction there is a specific procedure in which the prosecutor must also be heard.

In cases of conditional release, the prosecutor must be heard and must control if the legal requisites exist in the given case.

Amnesty is the competence of Parliament through law, and therefore there is no intervention of the prosecutor.

Les procureurs participent-ils au processus de grce, d’amnistie ou de libration des personnes notamment en cas d’effets ngatifs de la sanction ? Les procureurs contrlent-ils les casiers judiciaires ?

Question 19

Are special qualifications and training required of prosecutors who carry out duties in matters of criminal and administrative detention? Please specify.

Prosecutors specialised in penitentiary law enjoy a permanent training system based on annual Seminars for specialised prosecutors in which it has been decided to start a format whereby Joint Acting Criteria will be set, always under the supervision of the General Prosecutor’s Office in order to ensure the principle of unity of action.

Prosecutors specialised in Minors constitute separate sections within each territorial prosecutor’s office and also enjoy permanent training.

Les procureurs bnficient-ils de qualifications et formations spciales pour l’accomplissement de leurs tches en matire de dtention et de rtention des personnes? Veuillez prciser.

Question 20

What acts (presentation of conclusions, attend hearings, appeal against court decisions) are prosecutors entitled to carry out during proceedings before judges with jurisdiction over the enforcement of sentences/surveillance judges (“juges de l’application des peines”), in states where such judge exists?

Prosecutors can submit to the judge complaints or reports and participate in every file opened by the judge, informing about the legality and pertinence of any decision. Prosecutors can appeal any decision taken by the judge; as well as file a cassation remedy before the Supreme Court for unification of interpretation.

In states where such a judge does not exist, what acts (release on probation, subsequent alteration of the detention’s enforcement scheme, further restriction of a detainee’s rights, placement in solitary confinement, disciplinary punishment, and so on) are prosecutors entitled to carry out as regards court decisions?

Quelles sont les types d’action (prsentation de conclusions, prsence l’audience, appel contre la dcision) que le procureur peut accomplir durant la procdure devant le juge d’application des peines, dans les Etats o un tel juge existe?

Dans les Etats dans lesquels un tel juge n’existe pas, quels sont les actes que peut faire un procureur concernant la dcision judiciaire (libration avec mise l’preuve, modification postrieure du rgine d’excution de la dtention, renforcement des restrictions des droits des dtenus, placement en isolement/confinement, sanction disciplinaire, etc.) ?

Question 21

When monitoring the enforcement of punishments, do public prosecutors interact with the ombudsman or any other organisation linked to or charged with controlling the enforcement of punishments? If so, what type of interactions are they? Could you give the names of these organisations, whether they be institutional or not, and explain briefly their roles?

The Ombudsman can address the prosecution service seeking assistance but not the other way around. In some autonomic regions equivalent institutions to the ombudsman have been set up to supervise the actions of the regional administration. Catalonia is the only region in Spain with transferred competence over penitentiary institutions, therefore the regional ombudsman can monitor the performance of the regional administration and ask for the opinion of the prosecution service.

In addition to the above, some NGOs cooperate in programmes to assist and advice inmates. The prosecution service is in touch with them and this is a valuable source of information for prosecutors.

Also, some local Bar associations offer free legal aid to inmates. They also are in touch with the prosecution

Le procureur qui contrle l’excution des sanctions a-t-il des relations, le cas chant de quels types, avec le mdiateur ou d’autres organisations lies au ou charges du contrle de l’excution des sanctions? Pouvez-vous citer ces organisations, institutionnelles ou non, et expliquer brivement leur rle ?

Question 22

Could you give other useful information to the preparation of the draft Opinion (relevant questions to add, documents, etc)?

Pouvez-vous fournir d’autres informations que vous jugez utile la prparation du projet d’Avis (questions pertinentes voquer, documents, etc.) ?

1 Suspects held in custody/defendants, men/women, juveniles/adults, criminal prisoners/other prisoners, ill/healthy persons, accessories to criminal conspiracy, recidivists/first offenders, officials - police, military, detention facility staff - involved in criminal procedures.