One year after the implementation of the Law of March 4th 2002 whereby prison sentences can be suspended for medical reasons, only 21 prisoners have benefitted from such a measure. Stipulations apply to any convict whose vital prognosis is at stake or whose condition is not compatible with long-term detention.

The National AIDS Council strongly advocates that such prisoners be granted suspended sentences and calls on the public Authorities to take steps for the law to be effectively enforced.

To this end, the Council suggests that a red flag system be set up so as to entitle an inmate’s close freinds and family, as well as those in daily contact with him/her, to refer the issue to the legal authorities and to request a medical examination for the inmate. Likewise, inmates and the associations, organizations, and professionals that deal with them, must all receive extensive information on modalities and procedures of suspended sentences.

For efficient enforcement of the law, the Council considers that the issue of the length of time between the two required medical examinations must be addressed. For those inmates with serious conditions, applications must be dealt with speedily. For very serious cases, an emergency procedure should be implemented.

The Council recommends that medical experts’ practices be harmonized so as to ensure equal opportunities among inmates. The terms of the law are indeed imprecise and give free rein to any interpretation. It would be advisable for think tanks to be set up so as to reach a consensus on the criteria for suspended sentences.