In December of 1990, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution concerning the treatment of prisoners. This resolution was adopted by almost all member states. It safeguards the human rights of the prisoners and provides that they shall not be discriminated against on the grounds of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Under the resolution, all prisoners shall retain the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights except for those limitations that are obviously required by the fact of incarceration. Moreover, efforts towards the abolition of solitary confinement as a punishment are to be undertaken and encouraged. The prisoners should have access to the health services available in the country without discrimination on the grounds of their legal situation. In addition to these, certain specific issues of prisoners are also addressed by the resolution.
Full text of the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners is as follows:
Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners
Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990
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 personality.
7. Efforts addressed to the abolition of solitary confinement as a punishment, or to the restriction of its use, should be undertaken and encouraged.
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 institutions, 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.