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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MEPs demand improved conditions for prisoners

MEPs demand improved conditions for prisoners

By Martin Banks - 16th February 2011

MEPs say they should have the "right" to visit prisoners held in detention to give them a chance to air any grievances about poor conditions.

The demand is included in a written declaration launched in Strasbourg on Wednesday which also calls for "minimum common standards" for prisoners in all member states.

It says the Fundamental Rights Agency should "oversee" the issue of prison conditions to ensure that any such improvements and "common standards" are enforced.

The declaration was signed by a cross-party group of deputies, including French Socialist Francoise Castex who said that poor prison conditions was linked to a rising suicide rate.

Last year, 115 prisoners committed suicide in French jails, said Castex who told a news conference on Wednesday that the suicide rate is linked to "detrimental" conditions in prisons.

UK ALDE member Diana Wallis said that poor prison conditions were a factor in the relatively high rate of reoffending by inmates.

She said, "This is a matter of a basic human right."

The declaration must be signed by at least 50 per cent of deputies for it to have a chance of becoming formal parliamentary policy.

Meanwhile, UKIP deputies staged a protest in Strasbourg on Wednesday against a recent ruling on the rights of prisoners to vote by the European Court of Human Rights.

British MPs prompted an unprecedented stand-off between the UK parliament and the ECHR by last week voting to maintain a 140-year-old ban on convicts taking part in elections.

The court has ruled that disenfranchising prisoners breaches the European convention on human rights and threatened big compensation payouts.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said, "We support the withdrawal of voting rights for convicted prisoners. It opposes the interference of the European Court of Justice which advocates giving the vote to convicted murders, paedophiles and rapists."


You would expect a MEP such as Nigel Farage to know the difference between the Court of Justice of the European Union and ought not to be confused with the European Court of Human Rights!

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