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CARDS Regional Prison Project
 
Council of Europe/European Commission Joint Programme “Development of reliable and functionning prison system respecting fundamental rights and standards and enhancing of regional co-operation in the Western Balkans”

A joint CoE/EC Project on prison reform in the Western Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia (including Kosovo) and “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) is being implemented in 2007 over a twelve-month period. The Project is carried out jointly by DG I and DG II.

The overall objective of the Project is to enhance the regional co-operation and to develop a reliable and well functioning prison system in the Western Balkan countries, based on the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and European democratic values and standards.

The Project has the following specific objectives:

1. Develop and encourage regional co-operation in the penitentiary field in the Western Balkans with a view to establishing harmonised national prison strategies in line with European standards;
2. Enhance the legal systems by bringing laws and regulations into conformity with European standards as contained in the revised European Prison Rules and other relevant Recommendations of the Council of Europe;
3. Develop training programmes and enhance local training capacities so as to increase staff knowledge of European standards and best practices, in particular in the field of human rights;
4. Contribute to the development and consolidation of systems of governmental and independent inspection mechanisms;
5. Facilitate the exchange of information and communication through the development of a strategy for compatible information systems;
6. Improve the conditions of imprisonment of vulnerable groups and special high risk prisoners through the development of dedicated programmes;
7. Optimise conditions for reducing prison overcrowding by reviewing legal provisions, promoting alternatives to imprisonment and identifying good practices in the optimisation of space.

A number of activities: launching conference, regional workshops, expert meetings, training sessions, assessment visits and study visits will take place during the implementation phase of the Project.

A Memorandum of Understanding and an Action Plan on the implementation of the Project were agreed at the launching phase of the Project.