Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) today published the report on its ad hoc May 2009 visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with the response of the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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The May 2009 visit provided an opportunity to assess the progress made since the periodic visit in March/April 2007. The CPT’s delegation examined in detail various issues related to Sarajevo and Zenica Prisons, including the regime and treatment of remand prisoners as well as of prisoners placed in administrative and disciplinary isolation and in the high-security unit.

Particular concern is expressed in the report about Zenica Prison still not being under the effective control of prison staff, due to a combination of overcrowding, large dormitories (kolektivi) and the extremely low staffing levels. Further, a number of recommendations are made to improve the provision of health care in prisons in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The report also recommends that juveniles deprived of their liberty should not be held in institutions for adults but instead in specially designed facilities; where juveniles are held in institutions for adults, they must be accommodated separately and offered an appropriate regime.

The visit also focused on the situation of forensic psychiatric patients. The CPT recommends that the living conditions of patients at Sokolac Psychiatric Clinic be improved, and that measures be taken to reinforce the staffing levels and to introduce individual treatment plans for each patient. As regards Zenica Prison Forensic Psychiatric Annexe, the CPT calls upon the authorities to take the necessary steps to improve material conditions, patient treatment and staffing levels in the annexe, as well as to carry out a review of the clinical needs of all the patients.

In their response, the authorities make reference to various measures taken to improve the situation in the light of the recommendations made by the CPT. As regards Zenica Prison, information is provided on steps taken to make the prison safe, including the recruitment of an additional 50 prison officers. Reference is also made to the introduction of a legal provision to permit juveniles to serve their sentences in a dedicated juvenile facility located in another Entity of the State. Particular emphasis is placed in the response on a national strategy for combating drug abuse, which includes the provision of assistance to prisoners with drug abuse problems.

As regards Sokolac Psychiatric Clinic, the authorities provide information on the ongoing measures being taken to improve living conditions and state that all patients do have an individual treatment plan. They also provide information on the inter-Entity agreement on the placement and funding of patients in the Sokolac Special Hospital for Forensic Psychiatry, and state that the facility will now be renovated with funds donated by Switzerland.

The CPT’s visit report and the response of the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina are available in English on the Committee's website: