Detention issue

Time out of cell

FRA research findings

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Legal instruments & key provisions

Legal instrument Key provision
Imprisonment Act (Vangistusseadus)All detainees are allowed to walk in open air at least one hour a day.
Internal Rules of Prison (Vangla sisekorraeeskiri)Prisoners (post-trial detainees) are not required to be in their cell, if they are engaged in resocialising activities. A prisoner may move outside the cell within the limits of their department at the time provided for that purpose in the daily schedule of the prison. Prisoners must have at least four hours of free time in the department (unless the person is engaged in resocialising activities).


Year Recommendation Report
2016NPM pointed out the benefits of the prison leave as provided in the Imprisonment Act. Granting this leave is in the discretion of the prison service. Report details
2019The Chancellor of Justice (Õiguskantsler) has drawn the attention of Viru Prison to the need to offer persons in custody opportunities to spend time outside the cell. At the same time, the Chancellor of Justice reiterates her recommendation and emphasises in particular the need to pay attention to women who have been in custody for a long time. During the inspection, the advisers of the Chancellor of Justice talked to the arrested women, who had been in Viru Prison for a relatively long time and for whom it is difficult to find targeted activities. Report details
2020In February 2020, the Chancellor of Justice conducted an inspection visit to the open prisons and outlined the following concerns: There are still no training opportunities in the walking area of the female prisoners of Tartu Open Prison, which was already recommended by the Chancellor of Justice in the summary of the inspection visit made in 2016. The prison must install the necessary sports equipment in the yard or set a fixed time for women to use the sports area in the men’s yard. Report details
2020The Chancellor of Justice has criticised that Võru and Valga detention houses do not have a walking yard where detainees can stay in the open air: Similar to the Kuressaare and Narva detention houses, instead of a yard, cells with openable window are used, in which detainees are allowed to stay in for one hour a day. Already in the summary of the previous inspection, the Chancellor of Justice emphasised that it was not enough to take the detainee into a cell with an open window. The detention house must have a walking yard that meets the requirements. Report details
2021After an inspection visit to Tartu Prison, the Chancellor of Justice noted that most of the detainees in the closed departments did not exercise their right to take a walk in the open air, describing the walking areas as empty gloomy concrete boxes. Prison should make efforts to ensure that the walking areas of detainees in closed wards comply with international detention standards and the recommendations of international organisations. Report details