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UN conducts review of Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

9th January 2013

In December 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which requested that the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice establish an intergovernmental expert group which would examine the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and discern whether revision of the Rules was needed to “reflect recent advances in correctional science and best practices”.

Preparatory work was carried out in 2011 for the meetings of this intergovernmental expert group, and two meetings were scheduled for 2012. The first of these took place at the end of January 2012 and concluded that although the Rules have “stood the test of time”, there were some areas in need of review. However they stated that any changes should not lower the existing standards. They identified 9 preliminary areas for consideration. These recommendations were recognised and affirmed by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in April 2012.

December 2012 saw the second meeting of the intergovernmental expert group in Buenos Aires. In anticipation of this, the Detention, Rights and Social Justice Programme at the University of Essex and Penal Reform International held a meeting of experts at the University in October 2012. The meeting aimed to identify areas in need of reform and propose relevant changes which would reflect modern international norms and standards.The summary of outcomes from this meeting was submitted to the United Nations and can be accessed here.

It is expected that the outcome of the December meeting will be reported to the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to April 2013.

Click here for a joint NGO briefing on the process of the review so far.

The agenda of the December meeting in Buenos Aires as well as submissions made to the intergovernmental expert group can be accessed here.

You can find the full text of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners here.