The report recalls that since 2006 the CPT has repeatedly highlighted certain fundamental structural issues, such as a lack of policy on how to manage complex institutions, an inadequate system of reporting and supervision, and the poor management and performance of staff. The findings from the December 2016 visit demonstrate that little progress has been made to address these issues across the prison system. Moreover, at Idrizovo Prison, the provision of health-care remains totally inadequate and places prisoners lives at risk; the absence of any appropriate regime means prisoners have nothing constructive to do; and the conditions of detention in several parts of the prison could be considered as inhuman.
In addition, the report describes how a further pernicious element has spread its tentacles into the system, namely, that of corruption. The CPT found that, at Idrizovo Prison, every aspect of imprisonment is up for sale, from obtaining a place in a decent cell, to home leave, to medication, to mobile phones and drugs.
The report goes on to emphasise that the continued problems of ill-treatment, inter-prisoner violence, corruption and a lack of activities offered to prisoners at Idrizovo Prison are intrinsically linked to the insufficient number of prison staff and the lack of training and support provided to them.
As regards the remand section of Skopje Prison (which holds the vast majority of the country’s pre-trial prisoners), the CPT qualifies the regime offered to inmates on remand as a relic of the repressive past. Inmates are confined to their cells for up to 23 hours a day for periods of up to two years with nothing to do apart from reading, playing cards and listening to a radio. The material conditions are again criticised.
Although the situation in the closed section of Štip Prison is not as bad as Idrizovo Prison, the report recommends the necessity inter alia to reduce the extreme overcrowding in certain cells, to improve the material conditions of detention and to offer a regime of purposeful activities.
The CPT concludes the report by stating that the “time has come for the rule of law and protection of human rights to be applied fully in the prison system and for “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” to abide by its international obligations to cooperate with the CPT.”
The response of the authorities points to the various programmes being developed to improve the prison system and it states that each individual recommendation of the CPT will be taken into account and acted upon.
The report and response have been made public at the request of the authorities of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.