Strasbourg, 11.02.2010 – 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 fourth periodic visit to the Slovak Republic, carried out in March/April 2009, together with the response of the Slovak Government. These documents have been made public at the request of the authorities of the Slovak Republic.
The findings of the 2009 visit indicate that there has been an improvement in the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty by law enforcement officials, as compared to the situation found during previous visits to Slovakia by the CPT. However, in addition to a number of complaints concerning remarks of a racist nature, the delegation did receive several allegations of physical ill-treatment of detained persons by police officers, which concerned mainly excessive use of force during apprehension. As for investigations into allegations of police ill-treatment, the CPT has recommended that the Slovak authorities improve the effectiveness and independence of such investigations. The report also assesses the procedural safeguards against ill-treatment and concludes that further action is required in order to bring the law and practice in this area into line with the Committee’s standards. In their response, the Slovak authorities provide inter alia information on the training received by police officers in respect of apprehension techniques.
As regards the detention centres for foreigners visited in Medved’ov and Sečovce, the CPT gives an overall positive assessment. However, it is recommended that the programme of activities offered to foreigners be developed. The report also expresses concern over the unregulated nature of the “separation regime” in place for the seclusion of certain detainees and the lack of appropriate safeguards surrounding that regime. According to the authorities’ response, an alien is placed under a separation regime in circumstances determined by law and for a period of time which is reasonably necessary.
On prison matters, the Committee criticises the practice of collective strip searches and the use of dogs for routine prison duties involving inmates. As for the situation of life-sentenced prisoners, the report notes that certain measures have been taken to improve the detention regime of these persons, most notably by the introduction of an internal differentiation aimed at mitigating the standard regime. However, it would appear that this development has yet to be fully implemented; the regime afforded to the vast majority of life-sentenced prisoners remained impoverished. The conditions of prisoners held in the High-Security Department in Leopoldov Prison is another issue of concern for the CPT. The Committee observed that the High Security Department is limited to providing a secure setting, while the majority of prisoners it accommodates appear to be in need of psychiatric care. The Slovak authorities’ response states inter alia that the provision of the Ilava Prison internal regulations authorizing the use of service-dogs during evening head-counts has been repealed. As regards the High Security Department in Leopoldov, the authorities indicate that most prisoners held in this Department do not require psychiatric care as they are affected by personality disorders.
The Committee also visited the psychiatric ward at Trenčin Prison Hospital. The report highlights that patients placed in the protective psychiatric treatment unit and those receiving protective treatment for substance abuse benefit from a full programme of activities, whereas the regime offered to patients in the unit for acute psychiatric conditions is poor. In their response, the authorities state that prisoners of different guarding levels and categories are treated at the unit for acute psychiatric conditions, and that the daily activities offered to such prisoners depend on their physical state and the medication that has been administered to them. For this reason, it is not possible to organise group activities.The CPT's report and the response of the Slovak Government are available in English and Slovak on the Committee's website (http://www.cpt.coe.int).