Promoting Independent Prison Complaints Mechanisms (2010) | Magyar Helsinki Bizottság
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TAX NUMBER: 19013983-1-42

The system of prison complaints is dysfunctional due to systemic and procedural reasons and does not meet international standards throughout the CEE-FSU region.As previous discussions and presentations suggest, in most of these countries the prison complaints mechanism as it operates lacks transparency and fairness and does not meet international standards. Detainees, members of one of the most vulnerable groups, cannot be sure that their complaints are dealt with in an efficient, effective and fair way. Therefore, there is a rising need to build support for reforms of prison complaints mechanisms.

With the financial and professional support of OSI the HHC launched a project to promote prison complaints mechanisms in the CEE-FSU region, to provide NGOs that are active in defending detainees’ rights with information on best practices and workable models.

In the framework of the project, the HHCcollected information from 20 CEE-FSU countries on their prison complaints mechanisms. The idea behind the survey was to identify common features and shortcomings of prison complaints mechanisms. The research was carried out based on a standardized questionnaire developed by HHC experts. A 70-page long study summarizing the conclusions of the research was written and disseminated among NGOs and other key stakeholders all over the region. The studyprovides the reader with background information on the field of research dealing with the necessity of monitoring and inspections in closed environments, such as detention centres, discusses internal and external complaint mechanisms, considers the role of NGOs in the monitoring of prison conditions and provides an analysis of the applicable standards of the European Court of Human Rights concerning detention. The study is available in English and Russian.

Building on the key findings of the research, the HHC organized a 2-day workshop. 50 experts from CEE-FSU and countries and from Western Europe participated at the workshop. Key experts included:

  • Jan van den Brand (representative of the Dutch Complaints Board
  • Pauline McCabe(Prisoner Ombudsman of Northern Ireland
  • Elisabeth Moody (Deputy Prison and Probation ombudsman, United Kingdom)
  • Ivan Selih (Deputy Ombudsman, Slovenia)
  • Máté Szabó (Parliamentary Commissioner for Civil Rights, Hungary)
  • Gergely Fliegauf (Former CPT member)
  • Mary Murphy (Penal Reform International)
  • Matthew Pringle (Association for the prevention of Torture)

The program of the conference is available here.

The workshop identified common problems, presented best practices, developed potential solutions, focused on the safeguards of impartial and independent prison complaints mechanisms. It also provided the participating NGOs with a networking opportunity and an impetus for building coalitions.

Supported by: Open Society Institute

 

 

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