Press release - DC124(2012)

Equal rights for foreign prisoners and prison overcrowding are central issues at a Council of Europe international conference in Rome

Strasbourg, 15.11.2012 – How are foreign prisoners to be guaranteed the same rights as other prisoners? What standards should be applied to avert any form of discrimination? In which way can prison overcrowding be reduced? These questions will be considered at an international conference from 22 to 24 November in Rome bringing together the directors of prison administrations and probation services of the 47 Council of Europe member States.

Management of imprisoned foreigners poses a problem whose severity varies between countries. The Council of Europe 2010 statistics indicate that the proportion of foreigners in prison oscillates from 0.7% of the prison population (in Poland and Romania) to 71.6% for Switzerland, with Italy midway at 36.6%.

The participants will discuss ways providing for them more adequately and preparing them for release and reintegration, in the light of Council of Europe Recommendation (2012) 12.

This recommendation sets out a series of measures to be taken, for example examining the situation of foreign prisoners according to the same criteria as for other suspects or offenders particularly when prison regime or sentence are chosen and release is considered, providing information on rights and obligations in prison in a known language, aiding contacts with the family and lawyers and building bridges between the country of imprisonment and the country of destination to aid reintegration. The text also stresses the importance of specific staff training for better understanding of cultural and religious differences.

The conference will be opened by the Italian Minister of Justice, Paola Severino and the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni as keynote speakers.

It will be held at the Campidoglio Palace (afternoon of 22 November) and the Italian Prison Administration Training College (23 November and morning of 24 November).

Further information

Press contacts:
In Rome
Giuseppe Zaffuto, press officer, +33 3 90 21 56 04, mobile +33 6 86 32 10 24
Roberto Tumbarello, press correspondent, +39 335 69 38 216
In Strasbourg
Estelle Steiner, press officer, tel. +33 3 88 41 33 35, mobile +33 6 08 46 01 57

Council of Europe Directorate of Communications
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11