Strasbourg 2 April 2020
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Facing COVID-19 pandemic

The right to protection of health is guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Social Charter which complements Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This right applies to everyone, including those deprived of their liberty. The PC-CP Working Group issued a Statement on 17 April 2020.

As the CPT detailed in its Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic: "an inadequate level of health care can lead rapidly to situations falling within the scope of the term “inhuman and degrading treatment"". The Statement draws its inspiration and further adapts to the current pandemic the standards adopted by the Council of Europe, in particular the relevant provisions of the European Prison Rules and Committee of Ministers’ Recommendations n° R(93)6 concerning prison and criminological aspects of the control of transmissible diseases including Aids and related health problems in prison, and n° R (98) 7 concerning the ethical and organisational aspects of health care in prison (see the Compendium of all relevant texts).

The European Court of Human Rights is taking a number of exceptional measures to respond to the unprecedented global health crisis including the examination of urgent requests for interim measures under Rule 39 of the Convention.

The Council of Europe, in close co-operation with a number of donors, has been implementing numerous projects that assist member States to inter alia develop a strategic approach to the provision of health care in prisons.

Council of Europe work in the field of penological co-operation

Historically speaking the Council of Europe has played a pioneering role and has a unique experience in promoting humane treatment of offenders, decent prison conditions and socially effective and rehabilitative penal sanctions and measures.

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Key Council of Europe Recommendations