Prevent Suicides in the prison system

According to media reports of February 18, 2017, a 23-year old, detainee with the initials N.L., committed suicide in the Institution for the Execution of Penal Decisions on the “Mine Peza” street (Prison 302).

The Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC), spurred by this painful incident, expresses its concern that two other such incidents have taken place this year alone in the Institutions for the Execution of Penal Decisions in Rrogozhina and Vlora. Also, the same was the case with citizen E.C. who was serving an imprisonment sentence in the Institution for the Execution of Penal Decisions in Korça, but in the circumstances when he had been granted leave to go to his house.

AHC is aware that the prosecutor’s office has initiated criminal cases on these instances in order to discover the real causes and motives of such grave incidents, especially given that the victims (detainees or convicts) are under the care and protection of state bodies. In spite of that, AHC deems it necessary to suggest to the prosecutor’s office that, particularly in such cases, investigation be fast, objective and comprehensive, with a notification of family members or relatives of the victims upon its conclusion.

It is the investigation of the prosecutor’s office and above all the court decision that should highlight whose responsibility it is for suicides in the prison system. On the other hand, AHC considers that it is necessary to resolve the problems with the prison system in terms of conditions, treatment, reintegration into the society and rehabilitation of convicts, as well as the fair assessment and address of risk factors within this system.

Some of the cases adjudicated by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) have concluded that suicides in prisons, when a result of the lack of specialized care or supervision on persons who are under the control of state authorities, may lead to violation of article 2 (the right to life) and article 3 (prohibition of torture) of the European Convention of Human Rights (see Keenan vs. United Kingdom). In the case Renolde vs. France, the ECtHR found violations of article 2 and 3 of the Convention after a complaint filed by the sister of the victim who had committed suicide in the isolation cell and suffered from mental disorder consequences. The court argued its decision with the lack of supervision of whether the convict was taking medication and his placement in an isolation cell.

Based on law no. 8328, dated 16.04.1998, “On the rights and treatment of persons sentenced to imprisonment and detainees,” amended, Recommendation (2006) 2, of the Council of Europe for Member States on European Prison Rules (item 52.1), Rule 47 of the United Nations Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners (RSM), AHC suggests to the General Directory of Prisons that, in such cases, it analyze the fact whether the relevant prison personnel had taken the preventive measures on persons deprived of their liberty who might make attempts to commit suicide or have committed suicide

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