Supplementary Guidelines on Health Conditions in Prisons

Riccardo Conti, head of the Uganda delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) presented the ICRC supplementary guidelines on prison conditions to the African Correctional Services Association Conference held in Kampala, Uganda.

Mr Conti, who has previously worked in Angola, Mozambique, Haiti and Liberia for the ICRC before heading the Uganda delegation, presented the ICRC's Water Sanitation, Hygiene and Habitat in Prisons Supplementary Guidelines to the conference. The ICRC has worked for 30 years in 90 countries, mostly in civilian prisons.

The ICRC developed guidelines to help deliver rights outcomes in civilian prisons.

These guidelines unfortunately had some unintended consequences when used by prison administrations. For example, the space guidelines stipulated a range of 3.4 square metres to 5.4 square metres. In addition the guidelines stated that in a disaster situation such as fire or flood, 2 square metres would be acceptable. However this was interpreted by many prison administrations to sanction 2 square metres as acceptable in situations of overcrowding.

The supplementary guidelines have thus changed the standard to 3.4 square metres for dormitory occupation and 5.4 square metres for single occupancy. This is now the standard. To sleep, an inmate must have 1.6 square metres of space.


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