Vatican seminar explores human rights for prisoners

.- This morning, an international study seminar on the human rights of prisoners began at the Vatican. The event is being organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, along with the International Commission of Catholic Prison Ministries (ICCPPC). An estimated 80 experts, scholars and chaplains from over 20 countries and five continents are reported to be in attendance.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council, gave the opening remarks of the meeting this morning. He was followed by a report from Ugo Vetere, director of the Treaty Affairs Division of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, on the theme "Respecting the Human Rights of Prisoners: A Global Challenge."

Today’s session closed with a round table discussion on the question "Are the Human Rights of Prisoners at Risk?"

The group heard comments from, among others, Silvia Casale, president of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Jean-Paul Laborde, director of the U.N. Terror Prevention Sector in Vienna, and Baroness Vivien Stern, secretary general of Penal Reform International.

Tomorrow, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, will speak on the theme, "Respecting the Dignity of Every Human Being: Discovering the Face of Christ in Every Human Being."

Also tomorrow, Christian Kuhn, president of ICCPPC, is scheduled to talk on "Prison Ministry: The Mission of the Church." A second round table will then take place with participation by workers in prison ministry from five countries. The seminar will conclude with a Mass to be held in Rome's Regina Coeli prison.

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