Many prisoners endure terrible experiences during their incarceration, all over the globe. When thinking about substandard conditions in foreign prisons, the average Briton might picture Asia or South America first, but we often overlook the fact that human rights violations are common a lot closer to home than one might think.

Prisons in Belgium, for example, have recently been criticised for being overcrowded and hazardous for inmates, as this recent article outlines. The European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe have both condemned Belgium’s inhumane prison conditions. One facility in Lantin is a prime example of this: in summer 2016, a two-month staff strike left prisoners trapped in crowded cells with no access to showers or medical care, culminating in an inmate’s murder.

Despite repeated government promises to improve conditions, such human rights violations remain commonplace. Prisoners complain of rotten food, constant risk to personal safety and cancelled visit time, often referring to the facility in Lantin as “Hell”. Across Belgium, an estimated 700 prisoners are forced to live in cells lacking enough beds, running water and toilets, and without access to adequate medical care.

Prisoners Abroad currently supports 13 British citizens incarcerated in Belgium. We ensure that prisoners in need have access to medical care, maintain their psychological health by sending  language-learning materials, books and magazines, and fight social isolation by helping them keep in touch with their families.

As one prisoner detained in Belgium said: “I truly feel blessed to have Prisoners Abroad’s unconditional understanding and care… For what you offer us is not only care and support but a love for us to remind us that though we made mistakes, we are still humans.”

If you are arrested in Belgium, find out what you should do here.