FIES system in Spain for holding prisoners in conditions of extreme isolation and the possibilities which alternatives used in other Member States offer for improving the human rights situation
WRITTEN QUESTION E-0571/06
by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL)
to the Commission
1. Is the Commission aware that EU Member State Spain has a prison system referred to as ‘Fichero de Internos de Especial Seguimento’ (FIES) specifically designed to hold prisoners in conditions of extreme isolation, a system which — following a phase of secrecy — was brought within the scope of legislation in 1997? Is the Commission aware that the system is divided into five categories, the first of which (‘control directo’) is intended for troublesome prisoners who regard themselves as political or social prisoners and protest against what they see as wrongs in society and who are treated more severely than the other FIES isolation groups that include drug dealers, armed gangs, sex offenders and those who totally refuse military service?
2. Is the Commission aware that up to 2005, 16 prisoners died as a direct consequence of the FIES system, because they had been mentally and physically weakened through needless provocation, lack of prospects, humiliation and mistreatment or because their extreme isolation meant that they were unable to receive the necessary medical care or to receive it in time? Is the Commission aware that one of those who died — in 2002 — was Xosé Tarrío Gónzales, who after having been given a short prison sentence was repeatedly sentenced again over a period of many years for rebelling in jail and showing solidarity with fellow prisoners, and who became well-known as a result of his book on life in such prisons entitled ‘Huye, hombre, huye!’, parts of which have been translated and together with other records of the experiences of prisoners in Spain have been circulated amongst human rights activists in other EU Member States?
3. Does the Commission agree that the Spanish system of extreme and long‑term isolation, and the range of categories to which it applies, might be regarded as an exceptional situation within the EU, as greater attention is paid in other Member States to reintegration into society and as the category of prisoners treated as desperately dangerous and violent and requiring special treatment if society is to be protected against them is significantly smaller in those countries?
4. Does the manner in which condemned prisoners are held, and above all the serious problems which this can mean for human rights, form part of discussions between the EU and its Member States — with due recognition for EU Member States' responsibility for their national prison systems — bearing in mind the attention being paid to this problem among human rights activists at the cross-border level? Does this offer the prospect of best practice in terms of humane treatment being adopted and elsewhere poor exceptions being tackled?
OJ C 329, 30/12/2006