Statement of Iceland at the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council

Panel on the protection of the human rights
of people deprived of their liberty


Twenty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council
Geneva, 10 September 2014

                                     

           

Mr. President

Iceland is honoured to contribute to this important issue by sharing our views and experiences, including what we see as some key challenges and good practices.

First of all, prison overcrowding and inhumane detention conditions are a global human rights challenge. To address it in Iceland, the Prison and Probation Administration may order alternatives to prison sentences for non-violent offenders, including electronic monitoring or community service. Prisoners can also be released on probation after completing two thirds of their sentences; half if they're not serving for serious offenses.

Second, we share the view that social rehabilitation of prisoners should be the highest priority. In Iceland we offer prisoners the opportunity to work and attend prison college. We also facilitate interaction with family and friends, including the possibility of temporary leave under certain conditions.

Third, we see a special need to accommodate the specific situation of children and juveniles. In Iceland, juvenile offenders are held in non-prison facilities run and supervised by the Government Agency for Child Protection. Due to their potentially traumatic nature, children are afforded the opportunity to visit their relatives outside of the prison setting.

Fourth, access to legal assistance and protection is fundamental. The right of prisoners to be represented by a lawyer is therefore strictly guaranteed under Icelandic legislation, as well as the presence of a translator when necessary. Every prisoner may appeal decisions regarding enforcement of the sentence and lodge complaints of alleged human rights violations.

Finally, Mr. President, we would be interested to hear the panel’s view on future steps, including the role of this Council, in advancing this important issue.

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