Albania: Poor detention conditions and prison healthcare revealed in new anti-torture report

A new Council of Europe anti-torture report expresses strong concern over poor detention conditions and prison healthcare services in Albania.

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) report also warns against the situation of forensic psychiatric patients and legal safeguards for involuntary hospitalisation.

The CPT report reveals “extremely poor conditions of detention” in most police establishments, except at Tirana Regional Police Directorate and Korca Police Station.

It states that conditions have also deteriorated at Tirana Prison No. 313 since the 2010 visit (overcrowding, limited access to natural light in cells and lack of hygiene), and conditions were found to be particularly poor at Saranda Pre-Trial Detention Facility.

Although a majority of detainees indicated that they had been treated correctly whilst in police custody, a number of allegations (including from juveniles) of recent physical ill-treatment by police officers were conveyed to anti-torture monitors.

The CPT calls for a “zero tolerance” policy and makes recommendations to reinforce the safeguards provided to persons detained by the police (in particular, effective access to a lawyer).

On prisons, no allegations of recent physical ill-treatment of prisoners by custodial staff were received, with the exception of Peqin Prison, where physical ill-treatment by members of the central prison administration’s special intervention unit was alleged in the context of cell searches.

The CPT acknowledges efforts made to provide prisoners with a range of out-of-cell activities but notes that no real provision was made for employment or educational/vocational training.

The report also points out shortcomings in healthcare services with a severe shortage of medication and the absence of systematic medical screening of newly-arrived prisoners. The CPT calls upon the creation of a specialised forensic psychiatric facility for patients, who had been declared not criminally responsible and who continued to be held in prison establishments in breach of national legislation.

In their response, the Albanian authorities refer to the measures being taken to address the CPT’s recommendations.

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