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Home > Recommendation Rec(2006)2-rev of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the European Prison Rules.

Committee of Ministers to member States on the European Prison Rules. (2020) Recommendation Rec(2006)2-rev of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the European Prison Rules. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

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The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted a Recommendation which updates the 2006 European Prison Rules. The rules, which contain the key legal standards and principles related to prison management, staff and treatment of detainees and are a global reference in this field, guide the 47 Council of Europe member states in their legislation, policies and practices. The revision concerns the rules on the record keeping of information about inmates and the management of their files, the treatment of women prisoners, foreign nationals, as well as the use of special high security or safety measures such as the separation of prisoners from other inmates, solitary confinement, instruments of restraint, the need to ensure adequate levels in prison staff, inspection and independent monitoring.

The recommendation regulates in greater detail solitary confinement (i.e. being locked up for more than 22 hours a day without meaningful human contact). Decisions on this measure should always be used as a last resort and take into account the state of health of the prisoner. Due to the very negative effect such a measure may have on one’s physical and mental health, it should be imposed for a strictly specified period of time, which should be as short as possible. The revised rules establish that states should set in their national legislation the maximum period for which solitary confinement may be imposed. Furthermore, inmates concerned should be visited daily by the prison director or an authorised member of the prison staff, as well as by the medical practitioner.


The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe, 

Having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 5) and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights;

Having regard also to the work carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and in particular the standards it has developed in its general reports;

Reiterating that no one shall be deprived of their liberty except as a measure of last resort and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law;

Stressing that the enforcement of custodial sentences and the treatment of prisoners necessitate taking account of the requirements of safety, security and discipline, while also ensuring prison conditions which do not infringe human dignity and which offer meaningful occupational activities and treatment programmes to inmates, thus preparing them for their reintegration into society;

Considering it important that Council of Europe member States continue to update and observe common principles regarding their prison policy;

Considering, moreover, that the observance of such common principles will enhance international co-operation in this field;

Noting the significant social changes which have influenced important developments in the penal field in Europe in the course of the last two decades;

Endorsing the standards contained in the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member States which relate to specific aspects of penitentiary policy and practice, and in particular Recommendations Rec(89)12 on education in prison, Rec(93)6 concerning prison and criminological aspects of the control of transmissible diseases including AIDS and related health problems in prison, Rec(97)12 on staff concerned with the implementation of sanctions and measures, Rec(98)7 concerning the ethical and organisational aspects of health care in prison, Rec(99)22 concerning prison overcrowding and prison population inflation, Rec(2003)22 on conditional release (parole), and Rec(2003)23 on the management by prison administrations of life sentence and other long-term prisoners;

Further endorsing the Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers to member States Rec(2006)13 on the use of remand in custody, the conditions in which it takes place and the provision of safeguards against abuse, CM/Rec(2008)11 on the European Rules for juvenile offenders subject to sanctions or measures, CM/Rec(2010)1 on the Council of Europe Probation Rules, CM/Rec(2012)5 on the European Code of Ethics for Prison Staff, CM/Rec(2012)12 concerning foreign prisoners, CM/Rec(2014)3 concerning dangerous offenders, CM/Rec(2014)4 on electronic monitoring, CM/Rec(2017)3 on the European Rules on community sanctions and measures and CM/Rec(2018)5 concerning children with imprisoned parents and the Guidelines for prison and probation services regarding radicalisation and violent extremism (adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 2016);

Bearing in mind the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, as amended in 2015 (the Nelson Mandela Rules), and the 2010 United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules),

Recommends that governments of member States:

−              be guided in their legislation, policies and practice by the rules contained in the appendix to this recommendation, which replaces Recommendation Rec(87)3 of the Committee of Ministers on the European Prison Rules;

−              ensure that this recommendation and the accompanying commentary to its text are translated and disseminated as widely as possible and more specifically among judicial authorities, prison staff and individual prisoners.

Appendix to Recommendation Rec(2006)2-rev

[Full recommendation URL link]

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Report
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
1 July 2020
Council of Europe
Corporate Creators
Committee of Ministers to member States on the European Prison Rules
Place of Publication

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