44,300 rulings still unenforced
The Ministry also noted that because of the currently high prison population levels and the existing infrastructural capabilities of the Prison Service, it is impossible to guarantee each inmate the four square meter minimum of the cell floor space.
This minimum has been imposed on Poland by international organisations. According to the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) presented in the Report published in July 2011, a minimum of 4 square metres of floor space should be provided per prisoner in shared accommodation. ‘As a member of the Council of Europe, Poland agreed to adhere to CPT recommendations. The state is thus obliged to ensure that each inmate has at least four square meters of the cell space’, says Maria Ejchart, HFHR expert.
By 17 June 2011, heads of prison facilities issued 236 decisions to admit prisoners to overpopulated prisons. Further, if 2,799 inmates placed outside living quarters were to be moved back to the shared accommodation units, the population rate would increase to the level of 102% and the prison heads would have to accommodate them in overpopulated cells for a maximum period of 28 days.
The statistics provided by the Central Prison Service Authority say that as of 31 May 2011, there were 4,370 compensation or personal injury claims brought to the courts in connection with placements in overpopulated cells. ‘We know that there are places in Poland where prisoners are still being kept in overpopulated facilities. Additionally, the situation will significantly deteriorate if all the defendants with prison sentences are admitted to prisons’, says Ms Ejchart.