Council of Europe Calls on Member States to Prevent Torture and Ill-Treatment

Following the publication of the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee’s (CPT) annual report, they have released a statement calling for solutions to the “complex challenges” in protecting people deprived of liberty in places of detention.

Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the CPT said that particular issues that require attention include prison overcrowding, immigration detention, involuntary treatment of psychiatric patients and the detention of juveniles.

“Today, when the prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment is being questioned as part of an attempt to challenge human rights and democracy, the task of protecting persons deprived of liberty is more important than ever. European states should step up their efforts to completely eradicate any form of torture or ill-treatment”, he added.

Since 1989, the CPT has conducted over 450 visits to CoE Member States, visiting more than 3000 police stations and 1200 prisons. They also evaluated hundreds of psychiatric establishments, social care homes, and immigration detention centres.

During 2019,  Albania authorised the CPT to automatically publish all future reports on the situation in the country. The CPT last visited Albania in 2018 and gave a less than glowing report.

They noted that while some improvements had been made, overall findings were not positive and little had changed since their last visit.

Issues included allegations of ill-treatment of prisoners and suspects, physical violence, psychological violence, conflicts of interest in prosecuting mistreatment cases, and withholding of rights such as legal advice, medical care. “Very poor” conditions were observed in police stations as well as unsanitary, poorly ventilated, and barren cells. 

The situation in immigration detention centres was condemned as was that of psychiatric hospitals. They noted that some patients hadn’t been outside for months or even years and that they were wrongly prevented from leaving the premises. 

The CPT recommended that the Albanian redouble their efforts in many areas, as well as taking significant steps towards ensuring patients and inmates are aware of their rights, receive information and avenues of recourse that they are entitled to, and that staff receives proper guidance and training in terms of the standards required.