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Human Rights Imprisoned: Institutional Human Rights Non-Compliance in Council of Europe Member States

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 33 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2009 Pages: 119-142
Nathan Meehan
Date Published
24 pages
This study examined the impact of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) on human rights compliance in places of imprisonment in member states of the Council of Europe.
The study found that the CPT and Torture Convention improved human rights compliance in places of imprisonment in the member states of the Council of Europe. This finding affirms the positive impact of the CPT in its efforts to improve human rights in imprisonment facilities. It is important to continue to collect data related to member-state compliance with the Torture Convention and expand the study sample beyond the 33 countries sampled in this study. This analysis should be used as a beginning for further research aimed at understanding how state-level and institutional-level factors influence institutional noncompliance with CPT rules. States that ratify the Torture Convention are obligated to comply with its mandates and are subject to visits by the CPT. The CPT has the authority to visit any place of detention at any time in those members states of the Council of Europe that have ratified the convention, and all member states have ratified the Torture Convention. The CPT has developed extensive standards for compliance with the convention’s abstract term “torture, inhuman, or degrading treatment.” The CPT has developed rules related to safeguards against ill treatment, material conditions, prisoner activities, health care, outside contact, and the treatment of segregated prisoners. The current study coded 80 publicly available CPT country visit reports conducted between 1990 and 2004. The study sample consisted of 247 visits to imprisonment facilities in 33 countries. 4 tables, 5 notes, 50 references, and appendix