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Albania: Anti-torture committee concludes that the treatment of persons detained by the police has improved, but conditions of forensic psychiatric patients remain unacceptable

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published today the report on its visit to Albania in February 2017, together with the response of the Albanian authorities.
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Albania: Anti-torture committee concludes that the treatment of persons detained by the police has improved, but conditions of forensic psychiatric patients remain unacceptable

The vast majority of detained persons interviewed by the CPT’s delegation indicated that they had been treated correctly by the police, and the delegation received only a small number of allegations of recent physical ill-treatment by police officers (such as excessive use of force at the time of apprehension or slaps/punches during police questioning). Overall, the information gathered during the visit suggests that a positive trend has emerged as compared to the situation found during the previous visit in 2014. However, several persons claimed that they had been severely ill-treated by one particular police officer at Durres Police Station. Following an urgent request made by the CPT, the Albanian authorities initiated criminal and disciplinary investigations against the police officer concerned.

The CPT welcomes the continued efforts made by the Albanian authorities to improve material conditions of detention in police establishments. Indeed, in most of the police detention facilities visited (namely, at Tirana Regional Police Directorate and Durres, Gjirokastra, Korca and Vlora Police Stations), material conditions were on the whole adequate. However, conditions remained very poor at Tirana Police Stations Nos. 1 and 3 and Saranda Police Station (dilapidated cells with extremely limited access to natural light, dim artificial lighting and poor ventilation).

The CPT expresses its serious concern that, despite specific recommendations repeatedly made since the 2000 visit, forensic psychiatric patients continued to be held at Zaharia Special Facility for Ill Inmates in Kruja and the Prison Hospital in Tirana under conditions which, in the CPT’s view, could easily be considered to be inhuman and degrading. In fact, the living conditions in both establishments had further deteriorated since the 2014 visit (in particular in terms of state of repair and overcrowding, with some patients being obliged to sleep on mattresses on the floor), there was an almost total lack of heating and limited access to hot water. In addition, the level of psychiatric care remained clearly insufficient. The CPT calls upon the Albanian authorities to provide without further delay a detailed plan for the creation of a forensic psychiatric facility and to take the necessary steps to ensure the speedy setting-up of such a facility.

Given the seriousness of the situation, the CPT held high-level consultations in December 2017 with the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers representing the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and Social Protection, and the Minister of Justice. In their response to the visit report, the Albanian authorities indicate that, pending the construction of a forensic psychiatric facility, all forensic psychiatric patients will be transferred in 2018 from Kruja and the Prison Hospital to another prison establishment as an interim solution.

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