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Poland: Small cells and lacking legal access for remand prisoners among concerns raised by anti-torture group

A new report by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) found problems regarding lacking legal assistance and prison cell sizes below the norm, among other issues. 

The report notes that most detained persons confirmed having been treated by the police in a correct manner. Nonetheless, the delegation received several complaints regarding excessive use of force during apprehension. The report also states that the three fundamental rights (the rights of detained persons to notify a third party of their detention and to have access to both a lawyer and a doctor) usually do not become effective from the outset of deprivation of liberty.

Based on a visit to Poland from 21 March to 1 April 2022, the report raises concerns over the “persistence of the negative practice” – observed during a prior visit in 2019 – that remand prisoners have limited legal access, whether in person or via telephone. According to the report, the situation was “particularly paradoxical (and somewhat absurd) in the case of remand prisoners who had requested to be granted free legal aid (and whose requests had been accepted) but who were in fact incapable of receiving such aid because of the impossibility of contacting their ex officio lawyer. The CPT calls upon the Polish authorities to take urgent steps to remedy this unacceptable state of affairs.

The CPT also “regrets to note yet again that, despite its long-standing previous recommendations, the official minimum standard of 3 m² of living space per prisoner (excluding sanitary facilities) has remained unchanged.” As a consequence, the report calls on the Polish authorities to “urgently amend” relevant legal provisions so as to raise the minimum standard of living space per prisoner to at least 4 m² in multiple-occupancy cells (not counting the area taken up by any in-cell sanitary facility) and 6 m² in single-occupancy cells. The official capacities of all prisons should be reviewed accordingly, as well.


 Press release
Poland: Small cells and lacking legal access for remand prisoners among concerns raised by anti-torture group


 Executive summary - Government response


 The CPT and Poland

Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) Strasbourg 22 February 2024
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