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News > Press Releases 2019 > Camera in a remand prison cell and the right to privacy

Camera in a remand prison cell and the right to privacy

21. 08. 2019

The complainant placed in a remand prison cell described his cell as a “toilet with a camera”. Allegedly, the camera was only a few meters away from the toilet and made a 24/7 recording. Although it was supposed to have a night-vision technology, the guards would turn on the lights five times a night during the patrol, thus waking up the prisoners. It was not possible to determine the actual use of the camera in the complainant’s case. The prison claimed that the guard would turn on the camera transmitting images to the guard’s station only if there was a danger of suicide. It did not make any recordings.

For the assessment of a possible interference with the right to privacy, it is not relevant whether the camera actually records the premises of the cell. The complainant should not have been placed in a cell with a camera at the first place. The use of a camera can be admitted in justified cases if supervision cannot be sufficiently ensured by increasing individual checks (by an educator, guard, doctor), in case of interviews with a psychologist or placement in a special crisis ward.

Therefore, the Ombudsman concluded that a general use of cameras in accommodation facilities of a remand prison disproportionately interferes with the right to privacy.

The remand prison eventually adopted the required measures and set the rules of camera use in an internal regulation. Given the general use of cells with cameras, the Ombudsman is negotiating with the Prison Service on possible unification of the procedures.

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