About us

The European Prison Litigation Network (EPLN) is an international non-governmental organisation (INGO) granted participative status with the Council of Europe.

EPLN was founded in 2013 by a network of NGO jurists, lawyers and researchers active in the penitentiary field in different countries. The Network aims at heightening the judicial protection of prisoners’ fundamental rights in Member States of the Council of Europe.

EPLN defines its orientations by combining a double approach:

  • consultation among legal professionals on the main problems affecting the use of rights in prison, in order to identify the issues requiring a coordinated intervention at European level;
  • dialogue and exchange between specialized NGOs and academic centers on major developments in penal and penitentiary policies in Europe in order to orient research and litigation on priority topics.

On this basis, PLN conducts its action in several forms:

  • compared research in order to promote the circulation of most protective normative models in Europe on the concerned issues, and to show national convergences likely to justify a development of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
  • research in law and social sciences, to analyze the actual conditions for the use of rights in detention and the real impact of legal developments;
  • coordination at the European level of litigation action before national courts and the ECtHR, building, where appropriate, on the results of the produced research;
  • advocacy towards national authorities and international bodies;
  • capacity building between specialized NGOs;

In this context, the RCP develops its activities around four main priorities:

  • reducing the obstacles for detained persons to access to the judge, through strengthening of the right to legal aid and legal assistance and, more generally, of mechanisms guaranteeing an effective protection of the fundamental rights in detention;
  • strengthening of procedural and substantive safeguards for accessing to sentence adjustments, particularly with respect to prisoners with long-term sentences ;
  • protection of detained persons against retaliation resulting from the use of remedies’ mechanisms;
  • litigation to take into account the development of control and neutralization mechanisms in contemporary penal and penitentiary policies.
  • strategic litigation addressing the current development of mechanisms of control and neutralization in contemporary penal and penitentiary policies.

EPLN brings together 18 non-governmental organizations from 12 countries and develops partnerships with several European research centers: Universities of Florence, Paris 1-Sorbonne, Strasbourg, Dortmund, Madrid Complutense, Comillas, Utrecht, Leuven, Ghent…