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Human rights

Complaint of Geneva prison overcrowding upheld

The Lausanne-based Federal Court has upheld the appeal of a prisoner who complained of being held in the famously overcrowded Champ-Dollon prison under inhumane conditions for 136 days. The case will now have to be re-examined by the Geneva court. 

The Geneva court will now have to rule on how the violation of the European Convention on Human Rights will affect the prisoner’s sentence. The appellant, a heroin trafficker, was sentenced to four years in prison. He is demanding a five-month reduction to his sentence due to the difficult conditions he had been subjected to. 

He was sent to the prison in April 2014 and spent the first night there in a cell measuring around 10 square metres with two other inmates. He was later moved to a more spacious cell but until September 2014 his prison stay did not meet minimum standards. 

This is not the first time the highest court in the land has ruled on detention conditions in Champ-Dollon. Last November, it accepted the appeal of two prisoners and declared their detention in cells measuring around four square metres to be illegal. 

The canton of Geneva is working to prevent overcrowding in Champ-Dollon. Last November it inaugurated an extension of the prison in Brenaz and plans to have a new prison ready in Dardelles by 2019, reserved for prisoners serving out their sentences. 

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