Prison overcrowding is disturbing – Nobody has the right to not enforce court decisions of compulsory medication

Media of May 29, 2016, referring to a report of the General Directory of Prisons of April this year, noted from a statistical standpoint that of the 5769 persons who are kept in institutions for the execution of penal decisions (convictions), 2622 have been sentenced to imprisonment (159 of them to life imprisonment), 2979 are pre-trial detainees and 168 citizens have been ordered compulsory mediation. Overcrowding in penitentiary institutions is 314 persons above the allowed capacity.

The Albanian Helsinki Committee has monitored time after time the situation of respect for the rights of persons deprived of their liberty in penitentiary institutions as well as the enforcement of judicial rulings on persons ordered to “Compulsory medication” in specialized medical institutions, due to their mental condition.

The problem of overcrowding and the fact that persons (through judicial decisions) mentioned above are kept in inappropriate conditions and are not sent to specialized medical institutions has been and remains a serious concern. This is why AHC as well as the People’s Advocate have made continuous recommendations to competent bodies, including through public reactions.

Overcrowding in penitentiary institutions and the way in which judicial decisions are executed for persons ordered to medical measures represent violations of the rights of citizens, sanctioned in domestic and international legislation. Such violations have consequences for man’s health and life and it should even be mentioned that, in this or that case, they may be qualified as inhuman and degrading treatment that falls into the category of torture. As a result, such violations are penally punishable.

AHC deems that the just, more reasoned implementation of criteria for security measures for imprisonment, in accordance with penal procedural legislation could have an impact on the reduction and even elimination of overcrowding in institutions for the execution of penal decisions. Naturally, in regard to this matter, AHC does not prejudice the positions of the prosecutor’s office or the court. However, we deem that such figures are disturbing and, based on the monitoring of some judicial decisions that AHC has undertaken in the past, it has resulted that in some cases, the security measure of arrest in prison is not implemented commensurately to the threat posed by the perpetrators and the penal offenses they are suspected to have committed.

AHC sees it necessary to mention that according to article 28 of Law No. 44/2012 “On Mental Health,” article 46 of the Penal Code, article 45 of the law “On the execution of penal decisions,” No 8331, dated 21.04.1998, Council of Ministers Decision No. 495, dated 10.06.2015, persons receiving medical measures (compulsory medication in a medical institution) should be treated precisely in the mentioned institution and not in sections or annexes that are part of the prison system. The National Committee of Mental Health has also been established for the implementation of laws dealing with mental health through decision no. 456 of 22.05.2013.

AHC underscores that continuing to keep the ill ordered to medical measures in the sections or annexes of Institutions for the Execution of imprisonment sentences could lead to the aggravation of their health. As a result, we think that this problem requires special attention and fast resolution. We hereby mention that problems of this nature have been the subject of review by the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg Court). The Albanian Helsinki Committee will soon submit to the Strasbourg Court a concrete case that it has followed through all legal ways and means in domestic institutions, but could not find effective remedy for them.

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