This is a fundamental safeguard against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, emphasises the Council of Europe´s anti-torture committee (CPT) in its annual report, published today.
On a number of occasions during its country visits, the CPT has found that complaints mechanisms did not exist or suffered from major shortcomings. Deficiencies included not informing detainees adequately about complaints bodies or procedures, undue delays in the processing of complaints, failure to thoroughly examine the detainee´s allegations, lack of independence or impartiality of officials dealing with complaints and insufficient protection against intimidation and reprisals.
“Complaints mechanisms should be immediately accessible in all places of detention in Europe. For the complaints system to be effective and trusted by persons deprived of their liberty, all complaints should be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly following a clear procedure which protects the person concerned from possible intimidation or reprisals”, said the CPT President Mykola Gnatovskyy.
In order that complaints are handled properly, it is the CPT’s view that a number of principles must be respected. Internal and external complaints mechanisms should be genuinely available and accessible. Specific regard should be given to the age, gender, state of health, any disability, or any circumstances rendering certain persons deprived of their liberty particularly vulnerable.
The Committee stresses that direct, safe and confidential access to complaints bodies should be secured. All complaints should be investigated effectively. If appropriate, complaints should lead to compensation and suitable sanctions imposed upon those responsible. In addition, a record of all complaints should be kept in specific registers.
The 2017 annual report also contains the key conclusions of visit reports published by the CPT and information about the 18 visits it made to member states.
On the occasion of the publication of its annual report, the CPT launched its Twitter account, @CoE_CPT.