You have the right to be, and feel, safe in prison. This means that the prison administration must make sure that you are not harassed, attacked or harmed in any way by other inmates. However, if you believe that there is any danger to you, it is also your duty to alert prison staff.

Prevention of future conflicts

The prison staff cannot be expected to, and shouldn’t have to watch your every step, but they must predict the dangers that may normally be expected in your situation and prevent possible conflicts before they have arisen.

example If you have had a special agreement with the police during the investigation to help uncover a crime, you may be endangered because of that cooperation. The prison administration must foresee these dangers and ensure your safety. 

Noticing signs of conflict

The prison staff also have to intervene if a conflict has arisen and prevent similar conflicts in future. The prison staff and doctors should be alert to signs of trouble. It means that prison officers should take note of possible conflict and act before it gets physical or harms you in any other way.

example If prison staff are aware that you have received threats several times or they see bruises on your body and nothing is done to protect you, it may violate your rights. 

To protect you from possible conflicts, the prison administration should not put you in the same cell or in contact with prisoners who might attack or harass you. Read more about placement in cells

Your duties

Bear in mind that it is not always obvious that a conflict may arise between you and other prisoners. You must always inform prison staff or the administration if you have a reason to believe that someone might harm you. If you have not prevented the conflict yourself by alerting prison staff or the administration, you will not be able to claim that the prison staff or administration failed to protect you. 

What human rights violation may there be?

Prohibition against inhumane or degrading treatment

Failure to prevent foreseeable danger to your life or health may violate the prohibition against inhuman or degrading treatment. 

Read more about the duty to investigate cases of inhumane or degrading treatment.

Right to life

In the most serious circumstances, a failure to separate a person from other inmates may lead to a loss of life. Read more about how to evaluate whether the right to life has been violated. 

How to complain

If you believe that your rights have been violated, you should complain to the Latvian Prison administration. Read more about how to complain.

Read more about how to complain if you believe that a fellow inmate has committed a crime against you.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education