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Persons with disabilities in Polish prisons – HFHR submits comments to Council of Europe Committee of Ministers

During the next session, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers will discuss the implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights entered in the case concerning the absence of proper facilities for wheelchair users in Polish penitentiary facilities.

In February 2013 the ECtHR made the judgement in the case of D.G. v. Poland, finding a violation of the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment. It was noted that the applicant had to rely on the help of his fellow inmates because he was moving on a wheelchair and suffered from paraplegia. Despite this, he was not provided with the assistance of a carer. Additionally, the man suffered from serious malfunctions of the urethral and anal sphincters but the prison failed to provide him with unlimited access to shower and a constantly stock of incontinence pads and catheters.

The HFHR has submitted comments to the Committee of Ministers, arguing that the existing architectural facilities for persons with disabilities in Polish prisons are clearly insufficient. “According to the latest report of the National Prevention Mechanism, a number of conceptual, structural and installation defects have been revealed at prison facilities that should theoretically be adjusted to the needs of the persons with disabilities”, reminds Michał Kopczyński, HFHR’s lawyer.

In its comments to the Committee, the HFHR also emphasises that Polish authorities should provide more training for Prison Service officers that would focus on the special needs of people with disabilities. The submission also includes information about insufficient funds for operations of the Commissioner for Human Rights. “The CHR is responsible for the works of the National Prevention Mechanism, which monitors the respect for human rights in detention facilities and works for the implementation of international recommendations by penitentiary facilities”, adds Katarzyna Wiśniewska, a member of the HFHR legal team.

The Committee of Ministers is the body responsible for supervising the execution of the ECtHR’s judgments by Council of Europe member states.

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