Back Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits prisons affected by strikes in Belgium

A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has just completed a visit from 7 to 9 May 2016 to penitentiary establishments in Belgium where a large number of staff were absent due to industrial action and therefore did not provide services to inmates.

The purpose of the visit was to examine on the spot the impact of this industrial action, which has been continuing for two weeks, on the situation of inmates. In this context, particular attention has been paid to the distribution of meals and access to outdoor exercise and showers, as well as to contact for inmates with the outside world (including with their lawyers) and the treatment of those requiring somatic and/or psychiatric care. Since its visit to Belgium in 2005, the CPT has stressed the need to establish a guaranteed minimum service in prisons while respecting the rights and liberties of prison staff. This issue was addressed in detail by the CPT in its 2012 and 2013 visit reports.
The delegation visited the prisons of Huy, Ittre and Jamioulx and the social defence establishment of Paifve. It interviewed persons deprived of their liberty as well as custodial staff, members of the management, health-care teams and police officers and members of the civil defence who had been deployed at these establishments due to the shortage of staff. The delegation also met Ferdinand Jolly, Mayor of Ittre.
At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its preliminary observations to Koen Geens, Minister of Justice, and senior officials of the Ministry of Justice, and held consultations on the measures taken by the Belgian authorities to establish a guaranteed minimum service, with a view to preventing inhuman and degrading treatment of inmates.
The visit was carried out by Jim McManus and Hans Wolff, members of the CPT, who were supported by Julien Attuil-Kayser of the Committee’s Secretariat. 

More information on the CPT and Belgium

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