Minimum service in prisons: Council of Europe slams Belgium again

Minimum service in prisons: Council of Europe slams Belgium again

The Council of Europe has again slammed Belgium for the absence of a minimum service in the country’s prisons when staff there are involved in protest actions. The Council said on Thursday that it was deeply concerned by the inability of the Belgian authorities to set up such a system despite a formal notice sent to the them last July.

During its seventh visit to Belgian prisons, a delegation of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), an organ of the Council of Europe based in Strasbourg, observed “no concrete progress” towards the establishment of a minimum service in prisons.

The CPT said the Belgian authorities’ inability to put such a system in place risked subjecting many detainees to inhuman and degrading treatment and could also worsen situations already considered intolerable. It could also jeopardize the health and lives of these persons and compromise the security of the establishments concerned, the CPT stressed in its report, published on Thursday.

Following years of inconclusive discussions, the CPT had been forced to issue an official notice to Belgium, calling on the authorities and social partners to “assume their responsibilities and quickly find an appropriate solution so as to resolve this exceptionally serious problem”.

Belgium’s Justice Minister, Koen Geens (Flemish CD&V) had said at the time that he was discussing the issues with the management and staff of prisons.

The CPT has been faulting Belgium for the absence of a guaranteed minimum service in its prisons since 2005.

The Brussels Times

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