Yesterday, the Committee of the Whole of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, meeting in Vienna, adopted the updated Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Formal adoption by the plenary should take place today. Then, the instrument goes to the General Assembly in the autumn.
The Commission has decided to call them the 'Mandela Rules'.
The Standard Minimum Rules were originally adopted in 1955. They have been hugely influential as an international standard and have often been cited by international courts and treaty bodies. For example, in the recent Vintner v. UK decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, concerning life imprisonment, we find the Rules cited as evidence of the 'commitment to the rehabilitation of life sentence prisoners and to the
prospect of their eventual release ... found in international law'.
The updated rules contain revised or new provisions on a range of issues including solitary confinement, medical care, documentation of detention and matters relating to the prevention of torture.