United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners under review

An intergovernmental expert group met in January 2012 to consider the way forward.

The process of review of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR) is under the control of the UNODC, specifically the UNODC Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ).

The CCPCJ set up an intergovernmental expert group on the SMR, which held a meeting in Vienna at the end of January. Four options for the way forward for the SMRs were under consideration:

A. Draft an international convention on prison conditions;
B. Substantively redraft the current SMRs;
C. Make limited targeted changes to the SMRs;
D. Adopt a commentary to clarify the SMRs without modifying the language of the SMRs. 

Option D (the commentary option) is based on a concept paper prepared by Andrew Coyle. Although this is preferred option of states such as the United States and United Kingdom, the expert group agreed to recommend to the CCPCJ, which will hold its next session in April 2012, to study option C (the limited targeted changes option). However, no draft amendments have been tabled and the commentary option has not been abandoned.

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