BRUSSELS - Overcrowding, striking staff, dilapidated infrastructure... With regularity our prisons are in the news in a way that leaves little to the imagination. What is less well known is that each prison has a Supervisory Committee that watches over the welfare of the inmates. About 450 volunteers, including doctors and lawyers, visit the prisons and report on the state of affairs. Complaints Committees were also established at the end of 2020: they are recognised as administrative tribunals within the prison walls.

What is it like to do this as a volunteer? What goes through the head of a supervising doctor who has to face years of failing health care in prison? How does it feel for a prison governor to have to appear before the complaints court? And above all, does this system of supervision contribute to respect for human rights in prisons? In this report Esmeralda Borgo looks at the prison through the eyes of the many volunteers who supervise and complain.

Team members

Esmeralda Borgo

Esmeralda Borgo is a freelance investigative journalist.

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