Prison Litigation Network

In order to enhance the legal protection of detainees, as a result of fundamental rights in the EU Member States, a European network of physicians and researchers working to protect the rights of detainees will be created. This network will help improve knowledge on EU legislation, will compare existing systems in different countries to better exchange information, to provide the best protection and to highlight the knowledge gained from actions brought before national courts to defend rights of those in prison.

This project is the first step in creating this network, which focuses on those countries which were condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for violations described by the judge as deriving from European structural problems / systemic related to the national penitentiary system (pilot resolutions, quasi-pilot decisions or similar), and requiring the implementation of effective mechanisms for compensation. Such decisions are related in particular to Italy, Romania and Bulgaria, where conditions of detention were described as causing an inhuman and degrading treatment, and by the judgment against them, were ordered to implement an appeal mechanism capable to solve such problems.

To support the implementation of such a mechanism, this project aims to clarify the expectations of European and national authorities to describe the different existing models in Europe, in order to analyze their mechanisms and highlight those that seem most suitable. Thus, this project will also study thr rights applicable  in Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Luxembourg, Ireland, UK, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania and Bulgaria.

The network will be eventually extended to all members of the European Council.

Based on a multilingual site (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian and Romanian) the network:

  1. will analyze and monitor the ECHR jurisprudence decisions taken by international organizations in the field of human rights, especially in terms of decisions and recommendations relating to procedural obligations applicable to prisoners;
  2. will extract progress in some countries and analyze the motivation that made such progress possible that other countries can also apply. For this purpose, analysis of the various legislative jurisprudence changes will be published for the use of all the network members;
  3. will monitor the implementation of the ECHR orders in prison, especially by communicating with the Committee of Ministers, which is the competent body in the field;
  4. organize seminars so that practitioners and researchers in the social sciences /social relations in penitentiary and prison can discuss together and analyze concrete obstacles encountered by detainees (especially the most vulnerable) when are brought before the judicial proceedings, and measure the compatibility between concrete expectations of detainees and the direction taken by the court.


Université Catholique de Louvain
Irish Prison Reform Trust
Romanian Group for Human Rights Defense
Observatoire International des Prisons – Section française
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
University Jaume I