Detention issue

Cell space

FRA research findings

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Legal instruments & key provisions

Legal instrument Key provision
Executive Penal Code (Ustawa z dnia 6 czerwca 1997 r. Kodeks karny wykonawczy)Every prisoner should be provided with at least 3 m2. The director of the unit may decide to place a prisoner, for up to 14 days, in a cell in which the actual surface available for one prisoner is lower than 3 m2, but not lower than 2 m2. The decision may be made only if the prisoners must be placed immediately in a penitentiary unit with no vacancies and if the prisoners belong to one of the groups described by law.


Year Recommendation Report
2016The NPM indicated that the current standard of surface per prisoner does not provide prisoners with decent conditions of detention. The NPM asked the Minister of Justice to introduce legal changes and increase the national standard of surface available to each prisoner to the level of 4 m2. The NPM paid particular attention to the negative effects of detaining prisoners in a cell guaranteeing only 3 m2, especially the increased risk of infectious disease transmission, the greater risk of a prisoner becoming a victim of violence, as well as no possibility of guaranteeing prisoners that they will be detained close to their place of residence. Report details
2017The NMPT, with concern, recorded the existence of two 13-person cells. Such cells fail to ensure even a minimum level of privacy, they lead to conflicts, threats and violence and are a breeding ground for the development of criminal subcultures. Report details
2019Unfortunately, despite the NMPT efforts to increase the cell size per capita described in the 2017 and 2018 Annual Reports, the Ministry of Justice does not see a need to make such changes. According to the regulations applicable in Poland, an inmate is guaranteed a minimum of 3 m2 of cell area. The legislation also allows for a reduction in this standard. In such cases an individual is unable to function normally. The Polish standard is contrary to international standards and practices of the majority of the European countries. Since 1996 Polish authorities have been called by international organizations such as the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), the UN Committee against Torture (CAT), the UN Sub-Committee against Torture (SPT), to ensure the minimum 4 m2 of cell space to prisoners. Report details