An anti-torture watchdog has warned against the police ill-treatment of suspects and prison over-crowding in a new report on Serbia.
The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has now published its report on the country following its visit in February 2011.
During the visit, the CPT’s delegation received several allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials. Complainants said that following arraest or under interrogation, they had been slapped, punched, kicked and assaulted with truncheon blows.
The CPT has recommended that police officers be reminded that all forms of ill-treatment are unacceptable and will be the subject of severe sanctions.
In their response, the authorities’ confirm that criminal and disciplinary proceedings have been launched in recent years against law enforcement officials for acts of alleged ill-treatment. They also outline a plan for the construction and renovation of police detention facilities, taking account of recommendations made by the CPT.
Overcrowding was a feature of all the prisons visited by the CPT delegation, especially at Belgrade District Prison.
The report urges the authorities to redouble their efforts to counter this problem and to be guided in this respect by the relevant Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The CPT’s delegation received allegations of ill-treatment of prisoners by staff at Belgrade District Prison and in the high security unit (Pavilion VII) of Požarevac-Zabela Correctional Institution: specific recommendations are made on this subject. The report is also critical of the impoverished regime for remand prisoners, who are confined to their cells for 23 hours a day for months on end.
In their response, the authorities reveal the steps taken to tackle overcrowding in prisons, including the planned construction of three new prisons.
CPT report on Serbia