Within the framework of the project “Towards harmonized detention standards in the EU – the role of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM)”, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights organized in cooperation with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee two online expert meetings on Monitoring requests and complaint procedure in prisons. Due to the current situation of COVID-19, the online meetings (27th and 30th April) replaced a workshop that could not be held in Budapest on 17th and 18th April 2020. Representatives of 10 NPMs, and experts from various organizations (e.g. the OSCE, ODIHR and the APT) contributed and one of the discussions was facilitated by Prof. Nora Sveaass, Vice-Chairperson of the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT).
The workshop on 30th April, started off with a presentation by Eszter Kirs (Legal Officer of Hungarian Helsinki Committee). She presented her research dossier on the relevant international standards and the practice of NPMs regarding monitoring complaints. Topics such as the Right to Complaint, Data Management and Protection against Reprisals were outlined. The presentation was followed by an interactive discussion which was moderated by Philipp Hamedl (Project manager and researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute). The 17 participants identified challenges of prison administrations and exchanged on best practices with regard to requests, complaints and the right to information. Practices and ideas of the participants on the preparation, the monitoring visit itself and follow-up activities started a lively exchange. As a result, new approaches were discussed and what further steps the participants had planned.
The research on monitoring complaints in prison will continue with interviewing of NPMs and experts. In autumn 2020, a handbook on the issue will be presented at a final conference in Budapest. The aim of this handbook is to support the work of the National Preventive Mechanisms throughout Europe.