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Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes two reports on Spain


Strasbourg, 30.04.2013 – The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has today published the report on its sixth periodic visit to Spain, which took place in May-June 2011. It has also published the report on its follow-up visit to Barcelona Prison for Men (La Modelo) carried out in June 2012. Both reports have been published at the request of the Spanish authorities, together with their responses.

In the course of the 2011 visit, the CPT’s delegation examined the treatment of persons detained by law enforcement agencies. The report highlights several allegations of serious physical ill-treatment by officers of the Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) in respect of persons held in incommunicado detention, and it recommends once again that steps be taken to ensure that the safeguards surrounding such detention are effective in practice. The report also refers to several allegations of ill-treatment by the Catalan police (Mossos D’Esquadra), and makes recommendations aimed at strengthening the safeguards in place and ensuring that all investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by the police are prompt and thorough. Further, the report recommends that all Mossos d’Esquadra officers wear at all times some form of identification, including during public order operations.

In response, the Spanish authorities explain in detail the legal safeguards in place in relation to incommunicado detention, and provide information on the cases of ill-treatment raised by the Committee in the report.

The increasing problem of overcrowding in prisons, and the negative impact it has on the conditions of detention, is highlighted in the report. Particular attention is drawn to the situation in La Modelo Prison in Barcelona where the state of dilapidation of the establishment is made worse by the chronic overcrowding. The apparent lack of action to improve the situation in La Modelo Prison led to the CPT carrying out a follow-up visit in June 2012; in the report on that visit, the Committee urged the authorities to put in place a strategy with clear timelines for the phased reduction in overcrowding at this prison.

In the course of the 2011 visit, the CPT’s delegation also examined the situation in the high security departments in a number of prisons. The report recommends that measures be taken to ensure that all such departments provide prisoners with a proper programme of activities and that they have rigorous placement and review procedures in place. In respect of the continued practice of resorting to mechanical restraint of prisoners (i.e. fixating a prisoner to a bed face down often for many hours), the report calls upon the authorities to review the application of the measure, to put into practice the panoply of safeguards advocated by the CPT, and to ensure that fixation is never used for punitive purposes. Further, the CPT recommends that the use of fixation as a means of restraint in educational centres for juveniles be ended. In response, the Spanish authorities provide detailed information on the legal basis regulating the various issues raised by the CPT and on the action being taken to improve the situation.

As regards the administrative detention of foreign nationals under aliens legislation, the report on the 2011 visit criticises the prison-like atmosphere in the Barcelona and Madrid detention centres, made worse by the restrictive regime in place and the limited contacts with the outside world. The report urges the authorities to review their approach towards the detention of irregular migrants. It also refers to several allegations of ill-treatment of detainees, in particular by an external intervention squad of the National Police; the CPT reiterates the importance of the Spanish authorities carrying out prompt and thorough investigations whenever allegations of ill-treatment are made. In their response, the Spanish authorities provide information on the cases of alleged ill-treatment mentioned in the report and refer to recent legislative changes to improve the functioning of the centres for the internment of foreign nationals (Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros).

The CPT's reports and the Spanish authorities' responses are available on the Committee’s website (http://www.cpt.coe.int)


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