Prison cells in the Netherlands do not meet the required European standard and there are questions over the doubling of the number of female inmates, according to a report published on Thursday by the EU committee for the prevention of torture.
The committee’s inspectors visited a recently built police complex in Amersfoort and were surprised to find 40 cells without daylight. EU rules say all inmates must be able to see if it is day or night.
The inspectors say the cells should be adapted so they have windows. They also advise the government to check all prison and police cells for their accessibility to daylight, say press reports.
In general, the inspectors were happy with the treatment of inmates. Most of them occupy single cells and are kept busy with work and sport. But they want to know why the number of female inmates has doubled over the last decade.
While the total number of inmates fell from 20,000 to 15,000 between 2004 and 2010, the number of women prisoners doubled to 8.7% of the total, the highest in Europe.
The inspectors are also critical of the way in which asylum seekers are treated. Handcuffing them on leaving a detention centre goes too far. The asylum centre at Rotterdam The Hague airport should avoid locking up families. In fact, no children should be put into a cell, say the inspectors.
In a reaction, the justice ministry said the cells in Apeldoorn were designed according to EU rules and inmates can easily see if it is day or night. In addition, no one is kept in a cell for longer than 48 hours.
Children are never kept in detention for more than 14 days, and mostly for a week. ‘Only during the preparations for deportation,’ said the ministry.