With regard to prisoners who are Foreign Nationals, the European Prison Rules and their updated revision of 1 July 2020 clearly state: "Staff who are to work with specific groups of prisoners - foreign nationals, women, juveniles or mentally ill prisoners, etc. - shall be given specific training for their specialised work".
Does all this really happen?
The Recommendations recently issued by Antigone build on the results of the Training needs report of civilian prison staff in 6 EU countries carried out within the EU-funded project B-COMPETENT. Key recommendations may be summarized as follows:
Speak the language
Is this rule commonly respected? As highlighted in the Training needs Report, all detected countries - with the sole exception of Catalonia – seriously lack translation and interpretation facilities, as well as staff training in foreign languages.
Get to know foreign inmates
The need to understand the foreign national prisoners, an indispensable step for the adoption of those "positive measures to meet the distinctive needs of prisoners who are foreign nationals" is not only hindered by the language barrier, but also by the difficulty of understanding the needs and expectations of people belonging to a different culture.
Get to know foreign communities
The need for in-depth knowledge of foreign detainees and their culture cannot be limited to the detained persons, but has to encompass the culture and characteristics of their community of reference, in order to encourage that gradual approach to freedom which is indispensable to ensure their reintegration into society.
Report on best practices related to human rights protection of foreign prisoners in 6 countries. Avokati I Popullit (2021)
Training needs report of civilian prison staff in 6 EU countries,University of Barcelona - OSPDH (2020)