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Detention Conditions and Human Dignity

A Study on Decisions of the European Court of

Human Rights

Pi-fang Wang

Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica

No. 128, Sec. 2, Academia Rd., Taipei 11529, Taiwan



The central issue of inmate right under European law has gone

beyond whether to recognize inmate rights, and instead focuses on

how to protect, substantively and effectively, the human rights and

dignity of inmates. Among the many issues, problems concerning the

conditions of detention have drawn much attention. Notwith-

standing that the European Convention on Human Rights does not

address issues of detention, the European Court of Human Rights

has articulated the concept of human dignity, and created the right

to decent conditions of detention according to Article 3 of the Con-

vention, which prohibits torture. This paper discusses first the ques-

tion of why and how the European Court of Human Rights has re-

written Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights

through its interpretation, and, secondly, based on certain adjudica-

tions, analyses the acceptable standards and requirements of the

conditions of detention through the lens of human dignity. Finally,

the paper points out the characteristics of the European protection


Key Words:

conditions of detention, human dignity, European

Court of Human Rights