GPFT ARMOIRIES                                                                           GPFT- GRAND PRIEURE DE FRANCE DU TEMPLE  

                                                           Membre fondateur de l' OSMTH *
                                          (Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem)
Organisation Non Gouvernementale à statut consultatif spécial aux Nations Unies (ECOSOC N°19885)
                     Membre du D.P.I. / ONU et du CoNGO (Conférence des ONG à statut consultatif)
                Membre du Conseil d'Administration du Bureau International de la Paix (Prix Nobel 1910)
                             Membre de la Plateforme des Droits Fondamentaux de l'Union Européenne


 *OSMTH: Ordre International régi en France par la loi de 1901 et représenté uniquement par le GPFT

                                      LE DROIT A L'EDUCATION DANS LES LIEUX DE DETENTION


Session parallèle avec Mr Vernor MUNOZ, Rapporteur Spécial sur le Droit à l'Education, organisée au cours de la XIème Session du Conseil des Droits de l'Homme à l'ONU à Genève.

Genève, Palais des Nations, salle IX, 4 Juin 2009  13H - 15H

Organisé par : - Defense for Children International

                          - Quaker UN Office

                          - Le Groupe de travail des ONG sur  l'Education et l'Apprentissage des Droits  de l'Homme

                          - Bureau International Catholique de l'Enfance



Mr Verner MUNOZ, Rapporteur Spécial des Nations Unies sur le Droit à l'Education

Dr Marcel de PICCIOTTO, (OSMTH), Groupe de travail des ONG sur l'Education et l'Apprentissage des Droits de l'Homme

Ms Gabrielle CHAIZY, Juvenile Justice Programme Officer, Defence for Children International

Ms Rachel BRETT, Déléguée ( Droits de l'Homme et Réfugiés) , UN Quaker Office



By Dr Marcel de PICCIOTTO,

OSMTH (Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem),

From the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education

Geneva, XIth session of the Council on Human Rights  June 4, 2009



Multiple Issues restrain the proper implementation of the Right to Education in Detention.

 They are either related to the person deprived of his/her liberty, or related to the system ( not the last of them being the lack of Education on Human Rights during the training process of the personnel); this presentation highlights some of these major issuesconcerning the detainee and/or the system and proposes some ideas for the improvement of the current condition on the subject.

While the right for persons deprived of their liberty to have the same education, (as well as the same health coverage), than those not in detention, is a fundamental Human Right, (as reaffirmed in numerous documents since the Human Rights Declaration in 1948, like  the 1955 declaration, the 1966 International Civil and Political Rights Pact , the Kampala Declaration…), we must recognise that this is still, regretfully, not the case.

For the sake of time, I will focus on detainees detained in prisons, (as I many countries, those detained under immigration laws are put in prison). Many of the issues I will address apply also to those seeking asylum, and detained under immigration laws.

The issues are multiple. Amongst those,  Some relate to the detainee himself or herself , such as:

- The problem of the legal age of children to be detained

- The lack of previous education, or a previous failure experiences

- The inability to speak the language of the country of detention

- The lack of vision for his/her future and/or of perseverance

- Drug or alcohol abuse

- Important health issues and concerns conflicting with the ability to be fully “available” for an education program (dialysis, heart, respiratory problems, cancer, HIV...)

- The isolation from one’s country or family ( case of those seeking asylum for instance)

- Refusals of sessions due to contrarieties such as a bad confrontation with a judge, with a guardian, the non-receipt of a letter from a relative, a problem with a co-detained person, etc…( this refusal is also often seen in cases of medical treatments “I refuse to take my medicine or to go to the doctor- because this and this” is a phrase often heard.

- Ignorance or misunderstanding of the goals/purpose/ agenda/benefits of the Education program,

-A special mention can also be made for the case of refugees in camps. Should the situation be assessed as possibly not a short displacement, maintenance of education should by all means be part of the requisites, as a guarantee both of local peace and of possible solutions for the next generation.

To help realise this goal, which might not be seen as deserving a top priority, one should take advantage of the qualifications of some of the refugees themselves: should there be scholars, teachers, doctors, etc  amongst them, these should be identified and means should be allowed for them to continue their mission, in cooperation with the NGOs and the supporting country (ies)

 Some relate to the system:

-          Schedule difficulties , to insert in the detention process ( movements, meal time, family visits, judge, advocate, …)

-          Lack of adequate sufficient state funding

-          Lack of trained accredited personnel

-          Lack of education to Human Rights during the training cursus of the personnel, although it has been reaffirmed in many international official documents such as the World Program for Human Rights Education (2005-), or the UN Decade for Human rights Education (1995-2004), as previously stated, this can be due to- ignorance or misunderstanding of the goals/purpose/ agenda/benefits of  Education to Human Rights and/or to the ways to implement them..

-          Issues seen as “more urgent” by the different authorities or public opinion: it is in fact not easy for the non detained persons to understand the needs of the detainees, if they are themselves in need, or cannot themselves have a correct access to education.…Or have no knowledge whatsoever of what are the Human Rights.

-          Cultural aspects and/or traditions (Role of women, etc..)

-          Multiple transfers from one prison to another one, with generally no prior notice, do reflect very negatively on the possibilities of a personalised and sustained education program.

-          Lack of information on the programs available, and too often, no real continuity after liberation.

-          Security imperatives in some cases restrain completely access to internet, as well as  the fear to grant contact with non penitentiary personnel. This limits access specifically to higher levels of education, those where experience, interface with academics, and research are customary in the out of the prison walls world.

-          Detention periods are often with intervals of liberty, and/or length of detention varies greatly from one detainee to the other, and even for the same detainee, the real detention time is often not known with certainty at the early stages of detention. This renders the establishment of programs even more difficult.

-          Old detention facilities (sometimes dating from the first half of the XXth century) , lacking the equipment and/or the personnel and/or the place to organise specific educational activities…

And I could continue on for the rest of this presentation

I wish to share with you some ideas for the improvement of the current condition on this subject

1.      Develop a nationwide INTRANET education program which could be followed by the detainee, even when he/she changes prison/residence: INTRANET allows controlled access and would be fully securable:

A nationwide INTRANET Education system would also ease most of the schedule issues due to detention specifics and adapt the process to the capacities, to the level and to the learning progress of the individual detainee, provided a minimal initial period of training on how to use the tool is provided; It might allow some academics interfaces.

For those with almost no knowledge of the language of the country,( often illegal immigrants and/or asylum seekers), (or those  illiterate) either a language interface or a pictogram based program could be developed.

Cultural or other specifics if relevant (age, religion, …) could also be used, not as deterrents, but as adherence tools to the program

2.      Education on Human rights should be made mandatory during all trainings of detention personnel  whether they be civilian or military, public or private employees ( at all levels of the process: police forces, civil workers, immigration officers, advocates, prosecutors, judges): all hose I would call “law enforcers”.

3.      Education goals and post detention employment perspectives should be defined jointly by the detainee and the local coordinator of the education program at the start of the program, and should be eventually revised according to the progresses.

4.      Preventive detention (if it applies) should in all cases be used at least as an evaluation period  for the education process, and education should start as soon as possible The Education process should be adapted to the level of the personal detainee, and follow up should be provided after the detention period. It is best if the detainee can keep the same coordinator throughout the length of the program (here again, intranet could help). The particular education needs of the detained person (male/female) should be discussed and ascertained individually- and not only gender or age oriented.  Education to Language and reading should be implemented whenever these skills are not mastered, and this in the earliest stages of detention: This is often upmost important as soon as during the pre-trial and/or the trial period.

5.      Participation of recognised academic authorities and delivering of recognised diplomas, need to be developed Partial Certificates of completion could be developed, as “intermediate rewards”, enhancing self esteem. These certificates, signed by an official academic authority of the State, could be handed out during some kind of special event, with the family of the detainee represented (if possible). It is important that the family understands and fully supports the education program  Levels of diplomas, up to doctorate’s level should be possible to obtain. Other possible rewards could be a partial remittal of sentence (one month, one year, or if not possible, some other “advantage”…), for each certificate obtained.

6.      Enhance the cooperation of NGOs and all other interested civil actors in these fields, for a win/win partnership: the detainee gains better access to education, and the state benefits from the dedicated trained (and accredited) personnel of the NGOs. NGOs might also prove useful in the post detention period. NGOs could also- if requested -participate in the training of the personnel in terms of Education to Human Rights., at levels to be defined jointly with the states. Being “Non Governmental” does not mean being in essence “Anti Governmental”. It is now time, more than ever, for a truthful partnership in these issues between civil actors, specially NGOs, and Governments ready to take the challenge.

I thank you for you attention.




Date de dernière mise à jour : 30/10/2011