European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment


Extract from the 2nd General Report of the CPT,
published in 1992

In introduction, it should be emphasised that the CPT must examine many questions when
visiting a prison. Of course, it pays special attention to any allegations of ill-treatment of prisoners
by staff. However, all aspects of the conditions of detention in a prison are of relevance to the CPT's
mandate. Ill-treatment can take numerous forms, many of which may not be deliberate but rather
the result of organisational failings or inadequate resources. The overall quality of life in an
establishment is therefore of considerable importance to the CPT. That quality of life will depend to
a very large extent upon the activities offered to prisoners and the general state of relations between
prisoners and staff.
The CPT observes carefully the prevailing climate within an establishment. The promotion
of constructive as opposed to confrontational relations between prisoners and staff will serve to
lower the tension inherent in any prison environment and by the same token significantly reduce the
likelihood of violent incidents and associated ill-treatment. In short, the CPT wishes to see a spirit
of communication and care accompany measures of control and containment. Such an approach, far
from undermining security in the establishment, might well enhance it.
Overcrowding is an issue of direct relevance to the CPT's mandate. All the services and
activities within a prison will be adversely affected if it is required to cater for more prisoners than
it was designed to accommodate; the overall quality of life in the establishment will be lowered,
perhaps significantly. Moreover, the level of overcrowding in a prison, or in a particular part of it,
might be such as to be in itself inhuman or degrading from a physical standpoint.
A satisfactory programme of activities (work, education, sport, etc.) is of crucial importance
for the well-being of prisoners. This holds true for all establishments, whether for sentenced
prisoners or those awaiting trial. The CPT has observed that activities in many remand prisons are
extremely limited. The organisation of regime activities in such establishments - which have a fairly
rapid turnover of inmates - is not a straightforward matter. Clearly, there can be no question of
individualised treatment programmes of the sort which might be aspired to in an establishment for
sentenced prisoners. However, prisoners cannot simply be left to languish for weeks, possibly
months, locked up in their cells, and this regardless of how good material conditions might be
within the cells. The CPT considers that one should aim at ensuring that prisoners in remand
establishments are able to spend a reasonable part of the day (8 hours or more) outside their cells,
engaged in purposeful activity of a varied nature. Of course, regimes in establishments for
sentenced prisoners should be even more favourable.
Specific mention should be made of outdoor exercise. The requirement that prisoners be
allowed at least one hour of exercise in the open air every day is widely accepted as a basic
safeguard (preferably it should form part of a broader programme of activities). The CPT wishes to

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