Detainees with disabilities: guaranteeing accessibility and reasonable accommodation, providing for alternative sentences

Expressing concern about the situation of detainees with disabilities – whether these disabilities are physical, sensory, intellectual or psychosocial – the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination has denounced States’ failure to ensure accessibility and reasonable accommodation for the specific needs of detainees with disabilities. This contributes to their vulnerability and isolation, and prevents their social integration in prison, the parliamentarians said.

Adopting a report by Manuel Tornare (Switzerland, SOC), the committee asked member States to respect the human dignity of all prisoners with disabilities. It proposed a series of measures to meet accessibility and reasonable accommodation obligations; to guarantee access to suitable care by qualified staff; to identify all types of disability as soon as individuals come into contact with the criminal justice system; to collect statistical data; and to adapt the legal framework governing the situation of detainees with disabilities. Moreover, it stressed that adjusted sentences or alternatives to prison sentences should be provided for wherever the condition of a person with disabilities is not compatible with detention.

Finally, the committee recommended that the Committee of Ministers undertake a study on legislation and practice in member States relating to provision for disability in the criminal justice and prison system in order to identify best practices and to adopt guidelines.