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Problems and their solution

Service of Custody, Imprisonment and Preventive Detention 

What can constitute maltreatment in a remand prison, a prison or an institution for the exercise of preventive detention? 

In general, any infringement of the rights of accused persons or convicts (wards) may constitute maltreatment. In particular, maltreatment is concerned when the right to preservation of human dignity is not respected. Specifically, this may involve a situation where the prison service does not respond to your notification that you are being humiliated by convicts or bullied, that your rights are being breached, or that body searches are being carried out in a humiliating manner (e.g. by someone of the opposite sex), etc. 

What will the Defender do for me if I consider that my rights are being breached in the service of custody, imprisonment or detention? 

The Defender may inquire into a complaint about the conditions in the service of custody, imprisonment or preventive detention. However, the control mechanisms of the prison service itself should be used first, i.e. the department of prevention, and the Department of Healthcare Service of the General Directorate of the Prison Service of the Czech Republic should be addressed in the case of dissatisfaction with healthcare. You may address the Defender only when you are not satisfied with the handling of the complaint by these institutions. In addition to inquiring into individual complaints, the Defender also performs so-called systematic visits to facilities where persons are restricted in their freedom. When the Defender makes decisions on the facilities he will visit, he also takes into consideration complaints about the facilities.  However, the purpose of the systematic visits is not to resolve complaints, but instead to carry out a comprehensive inspection of the conditions in the facility and compliance with the rights of those placed in them so that the Defender can set a certain standard for all facilities. 

Where can I acquaint myself with the results of the systematic visits? 

The Defender publishes summary reports on his website. In relation to prisons the Defender recommended, for example, the following:

Concerning ensuring privacy and respect for human dignity

  • to furnish all shared toilets with sufficient visual barriers on the sides and front. Where the toilet is inside the cell itself, it must either be separated from the rest of the cell, where structural separation is considered to be the optimum solution, or the cell must be used by only one convict.
  • in performing thorough body searches, to avoid a situation where the searched convicts are exposed to other convicts (e.g. by using screens). It is inadmissible to carry out thorough body searches collectively.

Concerning respect for family life

  • the practice in permitting telephone calls should be that calls to other than relatives should also be permitted in order to maintain the convict’s family bonds and social bonds. A convict should have the possibility of the most extensive possible contact with the above people, where the call should be permitted provided that the specific convict does not pose security risks.
  • to enable contact of convicts with their children. A limitation may be applied only when there is a justified suspicion that the child is being used as a means of introducing prohibited items.
  • to permit visits without visual and aural monitoring under set conditions. The practice should definitely not be to summarily reject these visits as such.

Concerning departments with enhanced technical and structural security

  • to change the regime in departments with enhanced technical and structural security so that convicts have the possibility of spending their time meaningfully, to be able to socialise at least between themselves for a certain period during the day (for example in culture rooms, or while exercising in the yard), and to have the possibility of physical exercise at defined times.
  • the procedure in applying any other restrictions (e.g. contact-free visits) should be based exclusively on the evaluation of individual risks. Each decision in this respect must be based on specific findings justifying any additional restrictions of a convict’s rights.

Concerning the use of coercive means

  • in using coercive means, consideration should be based on an individual evaluation of security risks for each individual convict. Security risks must be continuously monitored.

Concerning those serving life sentences

  • to commence work on the gradual integration of those serving life sentences with other prisoners and introducing practice that would be based primarily on an evaluation of individual security risks as well as the needs of each individual prisoner.
Can the Defender order the head of a facility to carry out any changes? 

The law permits the Defender only to express recommendations or proposals for remedial measures in the facilities he visits. However, if these are not complied with, the Defender may inform the superior institution or even publicise the case. 

Where can I acquaint myself with my rights and obligations?

You must receive advice of your rights and obligations upon admission into custody, imprisonment or preventive detention.  The internal rules which you are obliged to comply with should also be available to you.

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