In many countries all over the world, places of detention are of suboptimal standard and unfortunately treatments and conditions too often violate international human rights standards and may amount to ill-treatment or even torture.
»Monitoring places of detention by an independent monitoring body is known to be one of the most effective ways to prevent torture and ill-treatment. Monitoring health is an essential component of this, as the current COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated even more«, says Jens Modvig, Director of the DIGNITY Health Department.
Monitoring health includes assessing prisoners’ health, the health care services available to them and the conditions and treatments in the place of detention that have a direct or indirect impact on their health. It involves looking into a broad range of issues, such as the accessibility of the health care services, the initial medical assessment of prisoners upon entry into an institution, including its effectiveness in identifying cases of torture, the equivalence and continuity of care, the treatment and care of prisoners with a substance use disorder or a mental health problem, the handling of hunger strikes, the nutrition, sanitation and hygiene in the place of detention, and many others.
This new DIGNITY manual which was launched during an international webinar on monitoring health in places of detention on 13 January 2021, aims to provide an overview of all prison health aspects that are relevant when monitoring health in places of detention and is primarily aimed at health professionals conducting monitoring visits as part of an independent monitoring body. It is the first manual ever that gives a comprehensive overview of all health aspects in places of detention of relevance to the health monitor. It discusses the preventive monitoring approach, the monitoring cycle and includes 33 chapters in which individual prison health aspects are being presented and discussed, taking a base in prevailing international human rights standards and the relevance to preventive monitoring.