The Presidential Council of the World Federation of Trade Unions, which met on December 15-16, denounces the precarious detention conditions prevailing in penitentiary centres and prisons in various countries around the world. Overcrowding, due to the larger number of detainees than the actual capacity and standards of prisons, is a lasting violation of human rights and creates unhealthy and inhumane detention conditions that undermine the operation and role of prisons.

In addition, in the midst of a pandemic, the overcrowded prisons are turned into health time-bombs, endangering the lives of inmates and prison staff. The WFTU condemns the unacceptable exposure of prisoners in conditions of complete lack of social distancing and limited provision of necessary equipment for protection against the pandemic.

The current situation violates the rights of prisoners as they are guaranteed by the UN Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners (General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990) since the treatment of all prisoners with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings is prevented, the fundamental responsibility for promoting the well-being and development is violated, the retainment of human rights and fundamental freedoms except for those limitations that are demonstrably necessitated by the fact of incarceration is invalidated and the access to the health services available without discrimination is circumvented (principles 1,4,5,9).

The WFTU demands the immediate action of international organizations, governments and competent institutions of each country towards the compliance with all provisions and measures that will ensure the dignified and safe detention which is an inalienable right of all detainees regardless of the duration or cause of imprisonment.

WFTU Presidential Council

Source: World Federation of Trade Unions – WFTU statement on prisoners rights during pandemic