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Some methods of prisoner transfer may violate inmate’s personal interests

W.W., a convicted felon with a spine condition has been transferred many times from prisons to courts holding criminal trials. As a result of the transfers, his health has deteriorated. In consequence, W.W. decided to sue the State Treasury represented by the Chief Commissioner of the Police and Director General of the Prison Service.

“W.W. seeks compensation for the moral injuries suffered as a result of the exercise of public authority by Police and Prison Service officers”, says Katarzyna Wiśniewska, HFHR lawyer. “According to the claimant, the officers managed the transfers from his prison to courts in contravention of the law, thereby violating the claimant’s personal interests”, adds Ms Wiśniewska.

During the long hours of the transfers, W. was deprived of sleep at night and the conditions of the transfers themselves did not comply with the principles of humanitarian treatment and led to health disturbance, says the claimant.

“In our opinion, the way in which the inmate was transferred violated the Criminal Enforcement Code”, says Mr Marcin Ciemiński, an advocate with Clifford Chance, Janicka, Krużewski, Namiotkiewicz i wspólnicy, who represents W. pro bono. “Under article 112(1) [of the Code] a convict has the right to leisure for good health, and in particular should be given at least 30 minutes for a walk daily and have eight hours of sleeping time in every 24 hour period”, adds Mr Ciemiński. “This provision should be interpreted in light of the imperative to treat inmates in a humane way”, notes Adelina Prokop, a trainee advocate handling the case as a second-chair to Mr Ciemiński.

However, the Chief Commissioner of the Police says that article 112(1) cannot be construed in a literal way because this would substantially hinder or even completely prevent the organisation of prisoner transfers executed by the Police upon order of authorities conducting criminal proceedings.

Last year, the Human Rights Defender noted that stopovers in transfer did not enable the transferees to take a healthy rest.

The ECtHR has already heard cases on prison transfers. The Strasbourg Court has held that because of the need to respect human dignity, inmates should not be exposed to greater suffering and difficulties than those inevitably brought about by deprivation of liberty. This standard also applies to conditions of prisoner transfers.

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