Vissza Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has published today the report on its sixth visit to "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" in May 2006 [1], together with the authorities’ response. Both documents have been made public at the request of the Government.

A considerable number of persons - including juveniles – interviewed during the visit alleged that they had been ill-treated by law enforcement officials; in particular, there were repeated allegations concerning officers from the Special Mobile Police Units (known as “Alfa”). The findings highlighted, once again, the necessity for the authorities to deliver a clear message that the ill-treatment of detained persons is illegal and will be dealt with severely. Further, the Committee made several recommendations aimed at strengthening the safeguards in place against ill-treatment and at improving the effectiveness of police complaints procedures.

As concerns prison establishments, the report states that credible allegations were received of ill-treatment by staff at Idrizovo and Skopje Prisons. The CPT recommended that a clear message be delivered to staff in these prisons that physical ill-treatment of inmates is not acceptable and will be dealt with severely. It also recommended that concrete measures to eradicate such ill-treatment be taken, including through improved management and supervisory mechanisms. Further, the CPT recommended that the authorities put an end to the use of chains to restrain vulnerable inmates at Skopje Prison.

More generally, the CPT’s findings highlight poor management and supervision in prisons, inadequate staffing levels and a lack of appropriate training for staff. The CPT recommended that a thorough review of the prison health-care services be undertaken, including as regards the treatment of prisoners with mental health problems. As regards material conditions, the CPT found that they were very poor in certain of the accommodation units in Idrizovo Prison, and the Committee recommended that urgent measures be taken to render this prison safe and hygienic. Further recommendations were made by the Committee aimed at ensuring acceptable material conditions in all prisons. The findings prompted the CPT to recommend that the Ministry of Justice produce a comprehensive strategic plan for the recovery of the prison system, including as regards the urgent need to re-locate the Educational-Correctional Institution.

The CPT noted the important reforms underway in the area of mental health, in particular through the de-institutionalisation of psychiatry and efforts to support psychiatric care in the communuity. However, with respect to Demir Hisar Psychiatric Hospital, the CPT received numerous allegations of ill-treatment of patients by staff and recommended the authorities take appropriate measures to put an end to ill-treatment at the hospital. Further, the CPT stressed that the chaining of patients to their beds was totally unacceptable, recommending that all chains be removed from the hospital and that appropriate procedures and safeguards be adopted vis-à-vis patients who have to be physically restrained. It also made recommendations concerning low staffing levels, poor material conditions and safeguards governing the placement of patients in hospital.

At Demir Kapija Special Institution for mentally disabled persons, the CPT noted a number of structural improvements since the previous visit in 2002. However, concerns remain with regard in particular to inter-resident violence and staffing levels.

In their response, the national authorities draw attention to instructions submitted to all police stations regarding the treatment of detained persons and the safeguards they should be granted. Information is also given about the plans for upgrading and expanding the prison estate. Regarding psychiatric establishments, the Government refers to the newly adopted Mental Health Law and provides detailed information on the measures taken to improve material conditions, increase staffing levels and ensuring better supervision at Demir Hisar Psychiatric Hospital. Confirmation is provided that chains are no longer used in psychiatric hospitals. The national authorities also provide information about the measures taken at Demir Kapija institution to reduce incidents of violence and improve staffing levels.

The CPT’s report and the response of the national authorities to the May 2006 visit report are available on the CPT's website


[1]         A further ad hoc visit to "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"  was carried out in October 2007.

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