Council of Europe Mostly Praises Croatia’s Prison

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, October 3, 2018 – The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has praised the efforts of the Croatian authorities to reduce prison overcrowding.

The report which the CPT has published on its periodic visit to Croatia from 14 to 22 March 2017 reads that the delegation “recognises the efforts invested by the Croatian authorities to reduce prison overcrowding.”

“The CPT notes positively the considerable efforts invested by the Croatian authorities to eradicate prison overcrowding, which have yielded significant results in recent years, in particular by limiting the duration of investigative detention and establishing a nationwide probation system,” reads the report.

The CPT representatives visited county prisons in Zagreb, Split and Osijek and the Zagreb Prison Hospital as well as the Turopolje centre for juveniles deprived of their liberty under criminal legislation, and three psychiatric institutions: the Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Adolescents in Zagreb, the Vrapče psychiatric hospital and the psychiatric ward of the KBC Zagreb.

The document reads that “most prisoners met by the CPT stated that they had been treated correctly by staff.” “However, some allegations of physical ill-treatment were received, notably in connection with the placement of inmates in a padded cell for prolonged periods.”

The report also refers to frequent episodes of inter-prisoner violence, involving sometimes serious physical injuries, as remaining a persistent problem. Cases of inter-prisoner violence were cause for concern, especially several cases involving serious physical injuries inflicted on inmates by their cellmates. Therefore the Croatian authorities are urged to “adopt a national strategy to counter this phenomenon, including through more accurate risk assessment of inmates upon admission to prison.”

“Conditions of detention varied at the prison establishments visited depending on whether or not the accommodation areas had been renovated,” reads the report. “Concrete recommendations are put forward by the Committee for improving conditions in cells and remedying the deficiencies observed.

“As regards the problem of prison overcrowding, improvements were observed by the delegation; however, instances of living space below the minimum of four square metres per inmate could still be observed. It is necessary for the authorities to remain vigilant in this respect, in particular by reviewing the official capacity of certain prison establishments.”

The visiting delegation “acquired a positive impression of the professionalism of ‘treatment’ staff at the prison establishments visited.”

In respect to the Turopolje Correctional Facility, the report notes that juveniles held there were generally well treated and offered a good range of educational, vocational and recreational activities.

As regards the three psychiatric institutions visited, lack of living space and access to the courtyard for patients at the Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Adolescents in Zagreb is a particular concern of the CPT. The report also criticises the prescription of medication, the administration of electroconvulsive therapy in front of other patients and the absence of recording of the use of means of restraint.

In terms of psychiatric treatment, the CPT’s delegation found no indication of overmedication in any of the establishments visited.


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