Back Execution of criminal sanctions: refocus from punitive to rehabilitative approach

@ Council of Europe

@ Council of Europe

 On 28 and 29 November, the Cooperation in Police and Deprivation of Liberty Division held a multilateral meeting for prison and probation practitioners from the Council of Europe member states, that - traditionally - provided a forum for discussion and exchange of experience on a topic of broad interest related to human rights standards. It was dedicated to the paradigm shift that is currently under way in European countries: a refocus of approach to offenders serving their sentence from pure punishment to rehabilitation.

The participants coming from 23 member states acknowledged the importance of working with offenders before and after their release from prison to assist their rehabilitation and successful reintegration back into society, thus preventing their relapse into criminal activity and ultimately making the society safer. They took note of the results of the study “Analysis of the success of penitentiary reforms towards rehabilitation in Italy, Romania and Norway”, carried out by Associazione Antigone, an Italian NGO, in 2021-2022 within the framework of Council of Europe/EU Joint Project “Further support to penitentiary reform in Ukraine”. The study enumerates the factors that contributed to the move from a punitive to a rehabilitative approach in the selected countries, good practices, main challenges and minimum prerequisites that can provide for an improved methodology and tools for rehabilitation of prisoners and ex-offenders.

Representatives of several other countries also presented the experience made and challenges faced by their penitentiary and probation services that have an impact on the process of rehabilitation and resocialisation of offenders. In ensuing discussions, the participants emphasised that prejudices towards people with a criminal past are still strong, and that a change of mindset should take place not only within prison walls but also among public at large. The need to involve the civil society in the process of pre- and post-release rehabilitation of prisoners was also invoked. When closing the meeting, Director of Human Rights of the Council of Europe Christophe Poirel pointed out that respect for human rights by the criminal justice system is indispensable if prisoners are to have a chance for rehabilitation, and although investing in prisoners is not always popular, voices promoting rehabilitation should be supported.

The event was also appreciated by its participants as a valuable opportunity for networking with colleagues from other countries.


Strasbourg, France 28-29 November 2023
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