United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

14 December 1990


                                                    68th plenary meeting
                                                    14 December 1990
           45/111.  Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners
     The General Assembly,
     Bearing in mind the long-standing concern of the United Nations for the
humanization of criminal justice and the protection of human rights,
     Bearing in mind also that sound policies of crime prevention and control
are essential to viable planning for economic and social development,
     Recognizing that the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of
Prisoners, adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of
Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, are of great value and influence in the
development of penal policy and practice,
     Considering the concern of previous United Nations congresses on the
prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders, regarding the obstacles of
various kinds that prevent the full implementation of the Standard Minimum
     Believing that the full implementation of the Standard Minimum Rules
would be facilitated by the articulation of the basic principles underlying
     Recalling resolution 10 on the status of prisoners and resolution 17 on
the human rights of prisoners, adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress
on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders,
     Recalling also the statement submitted at the tenth session of the
Committee on Crime Prevention and Control by Caritas Internationalis, the
Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of
Churches, the International Association of Educators for World Peace, the
International Council for Adult Education, the International Federation of
Human Rights, the International Prisoners' Aid Association, the International
Union of Students, the World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations
and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, which are non-governmental
organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council,
category II,
     Recalling further the relevant recommendations contained in the report of
the Interregional Preparatory Meeting for the Eighth United Nations Congress
on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders on topic II,
"Criminal justice policies in relation to problems of imprisonment, other
penal sanctions and alternative measures",
     Aware that the Eighth Congress coincided with International Literacy
Year, proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution 42/104 of
7 December 1987,
     Desiring to reflect the perspective noted by the Seventh Congress,
namely, that the function of the criminal justice system is to contribute to
safeguarding the basic values and norms of society,
     Recognizing the usefulness of drafting a declaration on the human rights
of prisoners,
     Affirms the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, contained in
the annex to the present resolution, and requests the Secretary-General to
bring it to the attention of Member States.
               Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners
     1.   All prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their
inherent dignity and value as human beings.
     2.   There shall be no discrimination on the grounds of race, colour,
sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social
origin, property, birth or other status.
     3.   It is, however, desirable to respect the religious beliefs and
cultural precepts of the group to which prisoners belong, whenever local
conditions so require.
     4.   The responsibility of prisons for the custody of prisoners and for
the protection of society against crime shall be discharged in keeping with a
State's other social objectives and its fundamental responsibilities for
promoting the well-being and development of all members of society.
     5.   Except for those limitations that are demonstrably necessitated by
the fact of incarceration, all prisoners shall retain the human rights and
fundamental freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
and, where the State concerned is a party, the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol thereto, as well as such other
rights as are set out in other United Nations covenants.
     6.   All prisoners shall have the right to take part in cultural
activities and education aimed at the full development of the human
     7.   Efforts addressed to the abolition of solitary confinement as a
punishment, or to the restriction of its use, should be undertaken and
     8.   Conditions shall be created enabling prisoners to undertake
meaningful remunerated employment which will facilitate their reintegration
into the country's labour market and permit them to contribute to their own
financial support and to that of their families.
     9.   Prisoners shall have access to the health services available in the
country without discrimination on the grounds of their legal situation.
     10.  With the participation and help of the community and social
institution, and with due regard to the interests of victims, favourable
conditions shall be created for the reintegration of the ex-prisoner into
society under the best possible conditions.
     11.  The above Principles shall be applied impartially.