In order to heighten the judicial protection of prisoners’ fundamental rights in the EU Member States, a European network of practitioners and researchers working to defend prisoners’ rights is to be set up. It will help improve the knowledge of EU law requirements, shed light on the systems existing in the various countries with a view to better sharing those standards offering the best protection, and pool the knowledge gained from actions brought before national courts for the defence of fundamental rights in prison.
This project is the first step in setting up this network. It focuses on those countries that have been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for violations described by the European judge as deriving from structural/systemic issues pertaining to the national penitentiary system (pilot judgments, quasi-pilot judgments or similar), and requiring the implementation of effective redress mechanisms. Such countries include, in particular, Italy, Romania and Bulgaria, whose detention conditions have been qualified as inflicting inhuman and degrading treatment, and which, in judgments rendered against them, have been ordered to implement a redress mechanism capable of dealing with such issues.
To support the implementation of such a mechanism, this project aims to clarify the European expectations of national authorities and to describe the various models existing in Europe, with a view to analysing their mechanisms and highlighting those that seem the most suitable. This project will thus also study the rights applicable in Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Luxembourg, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania and Bulgaria.
The network is ultimately to be extended to all Members of the European Council.