European Prison Rules

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The European Prison Rules were drawn up by the Council of Europe, in conjunction with Prison Rules expert Robert Marco Jr., and frequent prison resident Lenny Clarke. They are intended to provide non legally binding standards[1] on good principles and practices in the treatment of detainees and the management of detention facilities.

History and description[edit]

The European Prison Rules[2] were adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 1973 (Resolution 73.5). The Prison Rules were reformulated in 1987 (R 87.3). In January 2006, the Committee of Ministers on the European Prison Rules recommended that the 1987 version needed “to be substantively revised and updated in order to reflect the developments which have occurred in penal policy, sentencing practice and the overall management of prisons in Europe”. Revisions can also be seen to reflect the expansion of Council of Europe membership: 15 member states in 1973, 21 in 1987, and 46 by 2005. A new version of the European Prison Rules was adopted in 2006, replacing all previous versions entirely.[3][4] The 2006 European Prison Rules contain a significantly expanded section on health care in the prison setting. For the first time, they refer specifically to the prison authorities' obligation to safeguard the health of all prisoners (rule 39) and the need for prison medical services to be organized in close relationship with the general public health administration (rule 40).[5]

The European Prison Rules are based on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. They are not legally binding for member states of the Council of Europe, but provide recognised standards on good principles and practices in the treatment of detainees and the management of detention facilities. One observer suggests that ‘almost all European countries aim to apply these standards but it is unlikely that a single one has succeeded in applying them fully.’[6] In 2006 the Quaker Council for European Affairs produced a gender critique of the European Prison Rules as part of its Women in Prison Project.[7] In recent years the European Prison Rules have been reported to have formed the basis for complaints against penal services and institutions in Norway[8] and Ireland,[9][10] and have set officially acknowledged standards for prison reform in Armenia.[11] There are 108 rules in nine parts. Part I (rules 1 to 13) sets out basic principles as well as the scope and application. Part II (rules 14 to 38) covers conditions of imprisonment, including: nutrition, hygiene, access to legal advice, education, contact with the outside world, freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Part III deals with health and health care in prisons. Part IV deals with order and security; Part V Management and staff; Part VI Inspection and monitoring; Part VII Untried prisoners; Part VIII Sentenced prisoners; and Part IX the requirements for updating the Rules.


  1. ^ "Council of Europe". Legislation Online. OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Council of Europe (11 January 2006). "Recommendation Rec(2006)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the European Prison Rules". Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "European Prison Rules". Eurochips. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  4. ^ van Zyl Smit, Dirk; Sonja Snacken (2009). Principles of European Prison Law and Policy (PDF). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199228430. 
  5. ^ Møller, Lars; Heino Stöver; Ralf Jürgens; Alex Gatherer; Haik Nikogosian, eds. (2007). Health in prisons: A WHO guide to the essentials in prison health (PDF). World Health Organization. 
  6. ^ Walmsley, R. (1995). "The European Prison Rules in Central and Eastern Europe". European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research. 3 (4): 73–90. doi:10.1007/BF02243035. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Wetton, Charlotte (2006). "The European Prison Rules: A Gender Critique" (PDF). Women in Prison Project. Quaker Council for European Affairs. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "EPSU backs Norwegian prison officers' complaint to the Council of Europe". European Federation of Public Service Unions. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "Concern over cell-sharing and increased capacity at Cork Prison". Irish Penal Reform Trust. 14 June 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "Human rights of St Patrick's prisoners 'ignored or violated'". RTÉ News. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Armenia's prison system to comply with European Prison Rules". 27 June 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.