20 April 2020 :

Open Letter to the Presidents of the European Institutions:

President of the European Commission,

President of the European Council,

President of the European Parliament,

Two-thirds of the planet is hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Europe is paying a frightening price in terms of human lives. It is now recognized that the only solution to avoid the further local spreading of the disease lies in social distancing measures, prohibiting physical contact with others.

This, along with testing and of course health care, is what the World Health Organization advocates. But these measures are clearly ineffective in places governed by the deprivation of liberty: detained persons crammed in unworthy prisons and illegal immigrants detained while awaiting random forced returns. It is also the case for migrants fleeing war zones, who are forced to take refuge in camps sometimes hosting tens of thousands of people without any basic protection mechanisms.

This double agony, which applies to the persons deprived of their liberty as well as to those in charge, has already been denounced by many regional organizations and NGOs. Doctors, lawyers, magistrates, citizens, all over Europe and around the world, worry about the consequences of the pandemic vis-à-vis those who are locked up and the staff charged with guarding them, in a situation of overexposure to the virus and consequently to more or less serious forms of the disease, and such even more in cases of overcrowding.

Among the possible responses to the current health emergency, particularly in places of captivity, the first urgent measure would be to decree in a united fashion an immediate and responsible amnesty to protect

among those deprived of their liberty the most vulnerable, in particular pregnant women, the elderly, children, the disabled, and so on.

Moreover, in a concerted manner, massive solutions to deprivation of liberty must be implemented, as has been done in other parts of the world.

Our humanity is at stake. From our collective ability to implement effective responses to today's health emergency depends our capacity to do so tomorrow regarding climate change.

This is why we urge you to ask the Member States to decide as soon as possible on broad amnesty measures, possible under existing laws, the principles of which are based on the common values of the European Union, and in particular of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which proclaims in its first article that "Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected."

Let us set an example! The pandemic hitting Europe today, will call on all nations to move in the same direction tomorrow.


To sign the Appeal use the address specifying your name, surname, city, country and position. Thank you


Elisabetta Zamparutti (Italy), Hands off Cain Treasurer and former member of the Parliament,

Jean-Marie Delarue (France), former Contrôleur général des lieux de privation de liberté (French NPM)

Vincent Delbos (France), former member of the French National Mechanism of Prevention (MNP),

Mairead Corrigan Maguire (UK), Nobel Peace Prix 1976

Jean-Paul Costa, (France) ancien président de la Cour Européenne des Droits de l’Homme

Bruno Cotte, (France) ancien président de chambre à la Cour pénale internationale

Alvares Gil Robles, (Espagne) premier Commissaire européen aux droits de l’Homme

Pascal Lamy (France), former European Commissioner for Trade, President emeritius of the Institut Jacques Delors.

Nils Muiznieks (Lettonie) ancien Commissaire aux droits de l’Homme du Conseil de l’Europe

Françoise Tulkens, (Belgique) ancienne juge et vice-présidente de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme

Petr Uhl, (Czech Republic), signataire de la Charte 77, fondateur de VONS, Prix Charlemagne 2008

Nikolaos Paraskevopoulos (Grèce) prof. émérite de droit pénal, ancien Ministre de Justice

Vania Costa Ramos (Portugal), Chair of Forum Penal - Criminal Lawyers' Association, Portugal, and Vice-President of the European Criminal Bar Association

Rita Bernardini (Italy), President of Hands off Cain

Ingrid Betancourt (France), political woman, writer,

Athanassia Anagnostopoulou, (Grèce) députée, ancienne Ministre des affaires européennes ; prof. d'Histoire Université Panteion,

Nick Hardwick (UK) HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and Chair UK NPM 2010-2016

Sergio D’Elia (Italy), Secretary of Hands off Cain,

Arta Mandro (Albania), professor at the Albanian School of Magistrates and writer, former member of CPT

Jean Pierre Restellini (Switzerland), former member of CPT and former President of the National Preventive Mechanism (MNP) of Switzerland,

Mireille Delmas-Marty (France), honorary professor at the Collège de France and a member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences,

Anna Šabatová (Czech Republic), former Czech ombudswoman, spokeperson and signatory of the Chart 77,

Maurizio Bolognetti (Italy), Conseiller general du Parti Radical, en grève de la faim pour l'amnistie

Carlos Pinto de Abreu, ,(Portugal) Lawyer and former Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Portuguese Bar Association

Eftychis Fytrakis, (Grèce), docteur en droit pénal, chercheur auprès le Médiateur de la République, ancien Secrétaire Général de Politique Criminelle

Giorgio Spagher (Italy), Professor of criminal procedure and former President of the national conference of deans and chief department of Law universities,

Philippe Mary (Belgique) professeur ordinaire à la faculté de droit et de criminologie de l'Université libre de Bruxelles

Sophia Vidali, (Grèce) prof. de Criminologie, Université Democritus, membre du SPT,

Tullio Padovani (Italy), Professor of Penal Law, High School of Sant'Anna Pisa,

Marie Lukasova, (Czech Republic) Lawyer

Pau Perez Sales (Espagne) Psychiatrist. Technical advisor NPM Editor-in-Chief Torture Journal.

Florence Morlighem (France), députée

Nico Hirsch (Luxembourg) Former Deputy Director General of the Grand Ducal Police

Marc Nève, (Belgique) Président du Conseil central de surveillance pénitentiaire

Irene Testa (Italie) Trésorière du Parti Radical

Maria Rita Morganti (San Marino), social services,

José Igreja Matos, (Portugal) Judge at the Court of Appeal

Cécile Dangles, (France), magistrate, présidente de l’association nationale des juges de l’application des peines

Andrea Pugiotto (Italy), Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Ferrara,

Hans Wolff, (Suisse), médecin, professeur de médecine pénitentiaire

Don Vicenzo Russo (Italie) Chapelain de la prison de Sollicciano (Florence)

Maurizio Turco (Italie) Secrétaire du Parti Radical

Ersi Bozheku (Albania), Professor of penal Law, University La Sapienza,

Germano Marques da Silva, (Portugal) Full Professor of the Portuguese Catholic University Cathédratique

Pasquale Bronzo (Italy) Professor of criminal procedure, Università La Sapienza.

Iphigenie Kamtsidou, (Grèce) prof. de Droit Constitutionnel, Université Aristote, membre du Comité National pour les droits de l'homme, ancienne président du Centre National d'Administration Publique

André Gattolin, (France), senator

Dr Sharon Shalev (UK), Centre for Criminology, Oxford University &

Roberto Rampi (Italie), sénateur

Giorgos Angelopoulos, (Grèce) prof. assistant d'Anthropologie sociale Université Aristote, ancien Secrétaire Général d'Education Nationale de Grèce ;

Roberto Giachetti (Italie), parlementaire

Vincent Asselineau, président de l’association européenne des avocats pénalistes Bruxelles

Nikolaos Koulouris (Grèce), professeur assistant de criminologie, Université Democritus


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