Respect for human rights and French prisons: an assessment of a deteriorating and alarming situation” – Feedback from the conference organized by ASSEDEL

On April 10, 2024, at 6 pm, ASSEDEL proudly organized its first conference on respect for human rights in French prisons, at Strasbourg’s “Maison des Associations”. This subject is essential for our association, which places the defense of human rights at the heart of its actions, and is more alarming than ever following the adoption of a ruling on the undignified conditions of detention in French prisons by the European Court of Human Rights on June 6, 2023. The conference aimed to make this major problem more visible and raise awareness while offering a debate and a question-and-answer session with the audience.

ASSEDEL was honored to welcome Matthieu Quinquis, president of the French section of the International Prison Observatory (“Observatoire International des Prisons”); Kevin Monier, assistant director of the association “Grandir Dignement”, which works on the detention and reintegration of juvenile prisoners; and Marion Rochet, assistant director of the Haut-Rhin Penitentiary Integration and Probation Service (“Service pénitentaire d’insertion et de probation du Haut-Rhin”) and member of “Collectif Walden”. Our guests were able to enlighten us on living conditions in French prisons and share their expertise on the subject.

After setting the context for the major challenges of respecting human rights in detention, we first gave the floor to Matthieu Quinquis, whose speech focused mainly on detention conditions, characterized by overcrowding, infestation by cockroaches and bedbugs, or restricted access to the telephone, caused mainly by the recurrent reinforcement of the penal arsenal. After mentioning the alarming number of 47 prisons in France having been condemned for unacceptable conditions of detention, Matthieu Quinquis told us about the financial difficulties faced by the International Prison Observatory, due to the reduction in public subsidies granted to the organization.

Kevin Monier then explained the functioning of his association, whose aim is to help minors in detention and reintegrate them into society, on an international scale, through activities linked to citizenship and democracy, while at the same time offering an innovative approach to the reintegration of detained minors: adapted civic service.

Finally, Marion Rochet mentioned the worsening working conditions of her staff in the Haut-Rhin Penitentiary Integration and Probation Service, emphasizing recruitment difficulties in this sector.

The talk ended with a buffet provided by ASSEDEL.

ASSEDEL is very proud to have organized this first conference, which proved to be a great success. The association would like to warmly thank Matthieu Quinquis, Kevin Monier and Marion Rochet for their enriching contributions, as well as the audience for their active participation and pertinent questions, which led to some fascinating exchanges.

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