Portugal: Anti-torture unit wants “effective measures” to cut rising prison population

Anti-torture monitors want the Portuguese authorities to take “effective measures” to reduce prison overcrowding.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), published a report today which highlights the failure of the government, for more than a year, to reduce the country’s jail population, in line with the CPT recommendations.

Between the CPT’s visits to Portugal in February 2012 and in May 2013, the prison population increased by 1,000 inmates.

The report, which is accompanied by the government’s response, focuses mainly on the situation at Lisbon Central Prison, which is affected by poor conditions and chronic overcrowding by almost 150%.

The CPT delegation found damp cells, crumbling plaster, broken windows, a lack of artificial lighting and decrepit mattresses in most of the basement areas of the prison. The CPT considers that such conditions could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.

Members of the CPT delegation received a number of “credible allegations” of ill-treatment of inmates by prison officers and stresses the importance of investigating such cases effectively. The CPT recommends improving the way physical injuries are recorded upon admission to the establishment or following a violent incident inside the prison, and increasing staffing levels.

The CPT also reveals concern about the safety of juveniles held in this prison and recommends transferring them to another establishment with an appropriate environment and a tailor-made regime. It also proposes improvements to the disciplinary process and to reduce the frequent use of prolonged isolation.

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