Varuh ДЌlovekovih pravic

Difficult Access to Outdoors for a Detainee with Movement Impairments

The Constitution guarantees everyone respect for human personality and dignity, even during deprivation of liberty and execution of penalties (Article 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia). This also includes accommodation adapted to their potential restrictions, and necessary assistance with daily tasks, as well as assistance in exercising their rights under the law and by-laws. The state is obliged to ensure that convicts with disabilities, too, serve their prison sentences in a dignified manner and exercise all their rights under ZIKS-1 (Enforcement of Penal Sentences Act). In the case of the complainant with movement impairments, ZPKZ Ig (Ig Prison) proceeded to rearrange the living space on the ground floor, from where she has easier access to outdoors. ZPKZ Ig also tried to make the stay of the convict easier.

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The Human Rights Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) has already addressed several recommendations to the Ministry of Justice (MP) and the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (MDDSZ) and other competent authorities[1], with which he proposed to take the necessary measures to ensure that all imprisoned persons who, due to age, illness, disability or other impairment need additional assistance, will be provided with suitable accommodation in adapted premises (within the prison system or outside) and assistance with their daily care and other necessary care. Despite this, the Ombudsman still encounters cases of not fully adapted living conditions for imprisoned persons who need such living conditions.

A detainee who could not walk up the stairs due to illness and therefore could not join the outdoor activities every day, turned to the Ombudsman. She was placed in a detention room on the second floor of the Ig Prison Penitentiary Institution (Ig Prison) and was dependent on the help of trained employees of the Ig Prison, who helped her up the stairs with a so-called mobile stairlift, designed to transport persons together with a wheelchair.

The Prison Administration of the Republic of Slovenia (URSIKS) replied to the Ombudsman's inquiry that the use of a stairlift is, in principle, simple, if the steps are straight and if the person supervising the transport is physically able to control its total weight and the weight of the person being transported. However, since the stairs in the Ig Prison are wooden and worn in a certain part, this requires even greater care during transport and causes distress for the employees who supervise the transport. Therefore, ten employees were trained to handle the stair lift. URSIKS confirmed that several times during the complainant's stay outdoors, none of the qualified employees were available and the complainant was not able to go for a walk, or she climbed the stairs by herself with the help of crutches, but later complained about pains. With the aim of preventing similar problems from occurring again, the Ig Prison actively approached the solution of the pressing issue and made the decision to arrange a space on the ground floor that will be used to accommodate women who, due to disabilities or movement impairments, are unable to walk up stairs. In a room with a capacity for two people, there will also be toilets and a shower, and the equipment will be adapted for people with reduced mobility, even if they use a wheelchair.

After examining the complainant's statements and summarized explanations by URSIKS, the Ombudsman did not find that the Ig Prison would have deliberately violated the complainant's right to be outdoors or that she would have been exposed to inhumane treatment, as the Ig Prison clearly made an effort to make the complainant’s access to the promenade or yard easier as much as possible, while observing the existing conditions.


Despite this, the Ombudsman found the complaint to be founded, because the complainant could not actually exercise the right to spend two hours a day outdoors due to the placement of her living space on the second floor of the Ig Prison, her movement impairment and the above-explained reasons to the extent to which the detainees according to Paragraph 1 of Article 213a of the Criminal Procedure Act (ZKP) are entitled. 8.1-15/2022

[1] Recommendation no. 25 (2021), no. 19 (2015), no. 14, and 15 (2016), no. 13 (2017), no. 21 (2018), and no. 73 (2019).