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France: Constitutional Court Finds Arrested Persons Have Constitutional Right to Challenge Conditions of Incarceration

(Oct. 28, 2020) In a decision of October 2, 2020, the Conseil constitutionnel (Constitutional Council), France’s high court for constitutional questions, found that the absence of judicial recourse for persons under arrest to challenge their conditions of incarceration is unconstitutional. This decision was given in response to two questions prioritaires de constitutionalité (QPC) (priority question […]

Italy: Supreme Court of Cassation Issues Decision on Rights of Detained Persons

(June 26, 2020) On May 22, 2020, the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) issued a decision declaring unconstitutional a provision imposing a radical ban on communication between incarcerated persons who, in accordance with Law No. 94 of July 15, 2009 and article 4-bis of Law No. 354 of July 26, 1975, are grouped together […]

Norway: Supreme Court Overrules Detention Order Issued Following Remote Proceedings

(May 14, 2020) On May 8, 2020, the Supreme Court of Norway overturned a decision to detain a man suspected of attempted murder because the pretrial detention hearing had been conducted remotely. (Supreme Court Decision HR-2020-972-U (sak nr. 20-065997STR-HRET).) To limit the risk of spreading COVID-19, the court of first instance conducted an initial pretrial […]

Mexico: OAS International Forum on Prisons Spurs Mexican Reform Bills

(Mar. 12, 2020) On February 6, 2020, the Organization of American States (OAS) released a statement summarizing the results of a Meeting of Officials Responsible for the Penitentiary and Prison Policies of the Americas, an OAS working group tasked with the formulation of measures aimed at improving prison systems. Mexico attended the meeting, along with […]

New Zealand: Bill to Restore Voting Rights for Some Prisoners Introduced

(Mar. 6, 2020) On February 25, 2020, the New Zealand government introduced the Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill in the Parliament. The bill amends the Electoral Act 1993 to enable people sentenced to terms of imprisonment of less than three years to vote in the country’s general elections. This would reinstate the rule […]

France: European Court of Human Rights Finds France in Violation of European Human Rights Convention Due to Overcrowded Prisons

(Feb. 26, 2020) On January 30, 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (E.C.H.R.) found that France was in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights because of poor conditions of detention in several prisons. The decision in J.M.B. and Others v. France was in response to petitions brought by 32 inmates of several […]

Finland: Parliamentary Ombudsman Tells Ministry of Justice to Clarify Regulations Limiting Inmates’ Opportunities to Smoke

(Feb. 4, 2020) On October 30, 2019, Finland’s Deputy Ombudsman issued Decision 5349/2019, in which it criticized the smoking prohibition provision of the Finnish Prison Act as ambiguous and called for its review. In 2015, the Finnish Parliament passed legislation allowing for (but not requiring) prohibitions on smoking (including e-cigarettes) in residential quarters at Finnish […]

Italy: Requirement to Complete Two-Thirds of Sentence to Obtain Early Release for Certain Kidnapping Crimes Ruled Unconstitutional

(Dec. 16, 2019) On November 8, 2019, the Italian Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional a provision of Law No. 354 of July 26, 1975 (article 58-quater, paragraph 4) requiring that persons convicted of kidnapping for the purposes of robbery, extortion, terrorism, or subversion, during the perpetration of which the victim died, be ineligible for early release […]

Italy: Legal Provision Not Allowing Home Detention Ruled Unconstitutional

(May 16, 2019) On April 19, 2019, the Italian Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional article 47-ter, paragraph 1-ter of Law No. 354 of July 26, 1975, because it failed to provide for humanitarian home detention for convicted prisoners experiencing supervening serious mental illnesses. (Decision No. 99 of April 19, 2019, Issued in a Constitutional Legitimacy Case […]

Israel: Amendment Law Passed Allowing Early Release to Accommodate Prison Living-Space Requirements

(Dec. 12, 2018) On November 5, 2018, the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) passed the Prisons Ordinance (Amendment No. 54 Temporary Provision) Law, 5779-2018 (Amendment Law) (SEFER HAHUKIM [SH] [BOOK OF LAWS] (official gazette) 5779 No. 2755 p. 44, Ministry of Justice website (in Hebrew; click on issue no. 2755). The Amendment Law is designed to enable […]