The Council of Europe is organising a conference in Strasbourg on 24 and 25 April to examine possible steps throughout the different stages of the criminal justice process - notably the pre-trial, sentencing and enforcement phases - to tackle the recurring problem of overcrowding in many prisons in Europe.
Prison overcrowding has serious negative consequences for detainees, but also for prison staff and society. In practice it means that living conditions of prisoners are below standard and the risk of inhuman and degrading treatment and of inter prisoner violence is increased. Overcrowding also implies a permanent strain on prison staff and undermines the reintegration in society of detainees after release.
The conference, which will bring together prosecutors, judges, criminal law experts and representatives of the ministries of Justice of Council of Europe countries, is supported by the European Commission and held under the auspices of the Finnish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers.
Participants will also discuss ways to apply the recommendations contained in the White Paper on prison overcrowding adopted by Council of Europe´s criminal law experts in 2016, and the rates of imprisonment in Europe, which are reflected in the recently published SPACE survey for 2018 on prison populations.
Eight prison administrations of the 44 which participated in the 2018 SPACE survey reported a serious overall problem of overcrowding: North Macedonia, Romania, France, Italy, Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Portugal and the Czech Republic. Another four had a prison density above 100 inmates per 100 places (Greece, Austria, Slovenia and Denmark).
Speakers at the opening include Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Director General of Justice and Consumers of the European Commission Tiina Astola and European Committee for the Prevention of Torture president Mykola Gnatovskyy. European Court of Human Rights´ judge Síofra O’Leary will deliver the keynote speech.
On 24 April at 13:15 a photo exhibition on open prisons in Finland will be opened at the hall of the Palais de l’Europe.
The conference is open to media.
There will be a live webcast of the opening on 24 April (9 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.) and the plenary sessions on 25 April (9 a.m. to noon).
Live Webcast of the Conference Plenary Sessions
- Concept paper
- Exhibition on Open Prisons in Finland - Video interview with Raphaëlle Duroselle
- White Paper on Prison Overcrowding
- Recommendation No.R(99)22 concerning Prison Overcrowding and Prison Population Inflation
- Recommendation No.R(92)17 concerning consistency in sentencing
- Compendium of Conventions, Recommendations and Resolutions relating to Prisons and Community Sanctions and Measures (March 2019)
- Opening Speech by the Deputy Secretary General, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni