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Rights of persons deprived of their liberty in the times of the coronavirus

In view of the state of epidemic announced in Poland, the Foundation wishes to draw attention to the situation of persons who have been deprived of their liberty, who are currently incarcerated in penitentiary facilities. From media reports as well as information provided to the Foundation by prisoners and their families, the conditions of detention in the times of COVID-19 are extremely difficult.

In Poland there are a total of 172 prisons, pre-trial detention facilities and external wards, 2 in which, according to the statistical data presented by the Prison Service, as at 27 March 2020 there actually was a total of 74 581 detainees. As part of the actions of the Central Board of the Prison Service and the Ministry of Justice,5 practically all6 the penitentiary facilities have introduced certain restrictions as regards the rights of prisoners in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. There is no doubt that the emergency situation in the country gives grounds for the implementation of temporary changes to the individual rights and freedoms of the general public, including persons deprived of their liberty. It is worth remembering, however, that even in conditions of penitentiary isolation, the restrictions imposed must meet the proportionality test and be respectful of human dignity.

This study was prepared following the analysis of communiqués published by the Prison Service on the official websites of specific penitentiary facilities. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights will analyse and monitor the situation of persons deprived of their liberty on an ongoing basis.

 

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