Prisoners have right to be considered a person, says Cardinal Martino

Speaking at a Vatican sponsored seminar on the human dignity of prisoners, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told 80 invited guests that being imprisoned never separates one from God's love and, therefore, from the human dignity that derives from and is rooted in this love.
The two-day study seminar was organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in conjunction with the International Commission of Catholic Prison Ministries (ICCPPC).

In his speech, Cardinal Martino noted that, "prisoners have the right to be considered as a person," and said that this consideration must not be an abstract idea but rather "should animate policies and law, social institutions of prevention and prison regulations, and the work done in prisons by offices of civil society."

He added however, that, "there are in the world many situations of imprisonment and methods of detention that are even pre-juridical, in the sense that they do not include the most elementary care for the rights of the person."

ICCPPC president, Christian Kuhn, commented that prison chaplains know the enormous danger that crime, especially organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism represent for society, and underlined that rarely is it the heads of organized crime who are in prison but rather the poor and marginalized.

He also announced that the conclusions of this Vatican meeting will be presented at the 11th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Penal Justice to be held April 18-25 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Cardinal Martino read a telegram sent to seminar participants from Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in the Pope's name, that said, "His Holiness greatly hopes that these days of reflection contribute to affirming the requisite respect of the permanent human dignity of the individual who has violated the law, so that he continues to feel part of society and committed to be reintegrated into it."

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