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Council of Europe anti-torture Committee
publishes report on Estonia


Strasbourg, 21.01.2014 – The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its most recent visit to Estonia, which took place from 30 May to 6 June 2012, together with the response of the Estonian Government.

In the course of the 2012 visit, the CPT’s delegation received almost no allegations of physical ill-treatment of persons detained by the police; practically all the detained persons interviewed by the delegation who were or had recently been in police custody said that they had been treated correctly. However, the delegation did receive a few isolated allegations of excessive use of force (such as kicks, punches, tight handcuffing) by police officers at the time of apprehension, after the person concerned had been brought under control.  Recommendations are made aimed at strengthening the formal safeguards against ill-treatment of detained persons and ensuring that all persons admitted to a police detention house are thoroughly screened by a health-care professional without delay.
 
Whilst welcoming the closure of some old, substandard police detention houses and the opening of new facilities, the CPT criticises conditions of detention in certain police establishments, in particular at Haapsalu Detention House. The Committee also recommends that a definitive end be put to the practice of accommodating remand and sentenced prisoners in police detention houses.

In relation to the prisons visited, the CPT’s delegation received hardly any allegations of physical ill-treatment by prison staff of inmates; nevertheless, a few allegations were heard of unnecessary use of force when dealing with an incident. Further, some inmates at Tallinn and Viru Prisons complained that they had been victims of inter-prisoner violence. In this regard, the delegation gained the impression that efforts were being made by staff to prevent incidents of this kind.The visit revealed a number of issues of concern, such as poor material conditions of detention and overcrowding at Tallinn Prison, impoverished regime for remand prisoners, and the excessive use of solitary confinement for disciplinary purposes (including in relation to juveniles) and insufficient health-care staff resources at Viru Prison. In respect of the country’s only maximum-security prison unit (so-called “Supermax”) at Viru Prison, the CPT encourages the Estonian authorities to further develop the programme of activities offered to the prisoners concerned, including work opportunities.

The report also examines the treatment and living conditions of patients at a psychiatric clinic and of residents at a social care home and includes an assessment of the legal safeguards in the context of admission procedures. Further, it contains recommendations concerning the conditions of detention in the disciplinary cells of a military barracks in Tallinn.
 
In their response, the Estonian authorities provide information on steps taken or envisaged to implement the CPT’s recommendations.
 
The visit report and the response have been made public at the request of the Estonian authorities and are available on the CPT’s website: www.cpt.coe.int


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