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This is a first-hand account of the often appalling conditions in prisons, police stations, psychiatric institutions, detention centres and other places where individuals are deprived of their liberty. It is based on extensive inspections in many countries in Europe, including the UK, France, Spain, Greece and Turkey, by a group of inspectors who had hitherto unparalleled access to institutions of detention. Inhuman States is a gripping account of the seamy side of Europe, of those 'social dustbins' that most people tend to ignore and of the practices - including torture - which take place within them. But it is also a book about some general concepts - what is 'human'? What should 'inhuman' or 'degrading' mean? Should general standards be uniformly applied to countries with diverse traditions, legal systems and conditions of life? This book is also a forceful plea for a better and more civilized Europe.
Cassese argues that Europe should be unified not only in the field of markets, banks, lawyers, and commerce: an effort should also be made to set out and implement at least some common European standards of justice with regard to those places of detention where each country relegates its misfits, deviants and all those who are thought to imperil the social fabric.
Antonio Cassese has for many years been Professor of International Law at Florence University and subsequently at the European University Institute in Florence. From 1989 to 1993 he presided over a group of international inspectors, who investigated, on behalf of the Council of Europe, the conditions of prisons, police stations, detention centres and other places where individuals are deprived of their liberty.