As part of ongoing work in Europe, PRI traveled to Coimbra, Portugal on 4 and 5 November to meet with criminal justice stakeholders and our partner the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra for discussions on ways to make non-custodial sanctions and measures in the country more readily available for all, supporting flexibility, responsivity and fairness in their use and implementation, also in times of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The meetings took place in the context of two on-going projects on alternatives to imprisonment, funded by the European Union and the International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation (IPPF).
Presentations by the project team highlighted key findings and recommendations from research conducted in Portugal, drawing connections between identified gaps or needs and opportunities for improvements and consistent alignment with international human rights standards.
Representatives from the Ministry of Justice – including probation services, judiciary, the Inspectorate General of Justice Services and the Ombudsperson’s office – from the Portuguese Bar Association and from civil society discussed opportunities for more adaptability and effectiveness in the face adverse events, with the goal of ensuring different parts of the system as well as staff and all individuals serving non-custodial sentences are sufficiently supported both as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and with an eye toward any future crises.
In addition to the noted discussions, the participants were invited to share input on the development of an upcoming training workshop for criminal justice professionals and a pilot programme that is to be implemented to expand non-custodial alternatives to detention for individuals with mental health needs, developed as part of a 23-month EU Just project.
Advocacy activities are also ongoing in three other focus countries of our IPPF-funded project – Georgia, Hungary and Kyrgyzstan – as we seek to support lasting reform and look forward to a January 2022 launch of a Model for Reform, intended to support improved crisis-readiness, adaptability and non-discrimination in probation and post-release services globally.
For more on our work in Europe and to stay up-to-date on upcoming events and new resources, including country-specific and comparative research reports and the Model for Reform, sign up for the PRI Newsletter and visit our projects page.