Natrag Council of Europe anti-torture Committee visits France

A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a periodic visit to France from 15 to 27 November 2015.

This was the twelfth visit of the Committee to France and was part of the programme of periodic visits for 2015. The visit was not carried out in reaction to the tragic attacks which took place in Paris on 13 November 2015 and the subsequent events.

During the visit, the delegation paid particular attention to the conditions of deprivation of liberty in three remand prisons affected by overcrowding and to the regime of certain categories of convicted prisoners in different establishments, including in a unit holding “radicalised” prisoners.  In addition, the delegation carried out a detailed analysis of the situation of involuntary patients in psychiatric establishments. Twelve establishments of the police and gendarmerie were also visited, notably with a view to examining the material conditions provided there for persons deprived of their liberty.

The delegation held consultations with Christiane TAUBIRA, Minister of Justice, and with senior officials of the Ministry of Justice. It also met with Michel LALANDE, Director of the Private Office of the Minister of the Interior, and Etienne CHAMPION, Director of the Private Office of the Minister of Social Affairs, Health and Women’s Rights, as well as with other senior officials from these ministries.

Further, the delegation met with Adeline HAZAN, General Controller of Places of Deprivation of Liberty, representatives of the Rights Defender (Ombudsman) and the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, and members of non-governmental organisations active in areas of interest to the CPT.

At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its preliminary observations to the French authorities.

The visit was carried out by Committee members Maïté DE RUE, First Vice-President of the CPT (Head of delegation), Régis BERGONZI, Dan DERMENGIU, Nico HIRSCH and Anna LAMPEROVA. They were supported by Julien ATTUIL-KAYSER and Janet FOYLE of the CPT's Secretariat, and assisted by three experts: Didier DELESSERT, Chief Medical Officer of the Prison Medical Services of Valais Hospital (Switzerland), Timothy HARDING, psychiatrist and former Director of the University Institute of Forensic Medicine, Geneva (Switzerland), and Vincent THEIS, Director of Luxembourg Prison (Luxembourg).

The delegation visited the following places of deprivation of liberty:
Law enforcement establishments

  • Albi Police Headquarters
  • Alençon Police Headquarters
  • Aulnay-sous-Bois Police Station
  • Local Reception and Investigation Service, 8th administrative district, Paris
  • Local Reception and Investigation Service, 9th administrative district, Paris
  • Police Headquarters, 14th administrative district, Paris
  • Toulouse Police Headquarters
  • Toulouse-Mirail Police Station


  • Albi Local Gendarmerie Brigade
  • Alençon Local Gendarmerie Brigade
  • Cugnaux Local Gendarmerie Brigade
  • Toulouse-Mirail Gendarmerie Investigation Brigade


  • Condé-sur-Sarthe Prison
  • Fresnes Remand Prison, including the Regional Medico-Psychological Service (SMPR)
  • Nîmes Remand Prison
  • Villepinte Remand Prison

Health care establishments

  • Gérard Marchant Hospital, Toulouse, including the Specially Adapted Psychiatric Hospital Unit for Prisoners (UHSA) and the “Marcel Riser” Long-Term Care Unit (USLD)
  • University Hospital Centre of Toulouse (targeted visit to the UF1 unit for psychiatric treatment without consent)
  • "Louis Crocq" Unit for Difficult Patients (UMD), Albi
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