Convicts and Human Rights: A Comparative Study on Prison Treatment in Europe and Canada
Iftene, Adelina Diana
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Prisoners are among the most vulnerable categories of citizens in every country, due to the large amount of control the state has over them. Enforcing Human Rights Law is a challenge in all areas that it covers. However, ensuring human rights for those behind bars sometimes seems nearly impossible because of the isolation, the lack of interest of the outside world and mostly because of the sometimes conflicting goals that Correctional Law and Human Rights Law seem to have. This is why this thesis focuses on the protection of convicts against torture and ill-treatment. The structure is that of a comparison between the regional protection granted to these people by the European Court of Human Rights and the local avenues granted in Canada, a country that does not benefit from a regional protection for its citizens. The purpose is to analyze how convicts can best fight abuses in a world where their inherent rights are increasingly ignored in the name of security. The parallel between a regional system and a national one will be developed by discussing and comparing the shared human rights framework provided by international instruments, the case law and the evolving principles for convicts’ protection in Europe and Canada, the abuses that take place in both regions under consideration and, finally, how these abuses are addressed and remediated by the authorities. I conclude by pointing out the importance of developing a strong national correctional system that obeys Human Rights Law and that is permanently under the national courts’ jurisdiction. Nevertheless, based on this analysis, I believe it is crucial that there also be an external monitoring and juridical mechanism that can enforce human rights when the national authorities deliberately or accidentally ignore them. It is hazardous to leave the protection of human rights, especially of those in an enclosed environment, to the state which sometimes has conflicting interests and which in most cases is the one that trespasses them.