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Albania: High Number Of Pre-trial Detainees, Access To Healthcare Matters Of Concern, UN Torture Prevention Body Says

GENEVA (23 April 2023) – Albania must make additional efforts to combat overcrowding by reducing pre-trial detention, UN torture prevention experts said after their first visit to the country. They also stressed the need to ensure access to quality healthcare in detention.

“The high number of pre-trial detainees is concerning. Steps must be taken without delay to reduce the prison population in Albania, as a means of preventing cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” said Vasiliki Artinopoulou, head of the delegation.

“We welcome existing measures to address overcrowding, such as the Amnesty Law and the building of new prisons. However, new facilities will fill up quickly if the Government fails to tackle the root causes of overcrowding. The State party should accelerate criminal justice reforms while ensuring an effective implementation of alternatives to detention.”

The SPT visited Albania from 14 to 20 April and examined various places of deprivation of liberty, including prisons, penitentiaries, police stations and psychiatric institutions. During these unannounced visits, the delegation conducted confidential interviews with people deprived of their liberty, prison guards, police officers, and healthcare personnel. It conducted joint visits to detention facilities with the national preventive mechanism (NPM), the designated torture-prevention body in the country.

The Subcommittee also met with governmental authorities, including the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health and Social Protection, civil society and international organisations.

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The SPT delegation further noticed detainees’ insufficient access to healthcare. “Not only is access to healthcare, including mental healthcare, difficult, but the quality of services is also worrying. This issue sometimes poses a threat to people’s lives, causing suffering that may amount to ill-treatment,” Artinopoulou remarked.

The SPT will share its report, which includes findings and recommendations, with Albania. The report will remain confidential until the State decides to make it public. Additionally, the Subcommittee will prepare a separate, confidential report for the NPM.

The SPT delegation consisted of Vasiliki Artinopoulou, head of the delegation (Greece), Suzanne Jabbour (Lebanon), Nika Kvaratskhelia (Georgia), and Zdenka Perović (Montenegro). It was accompanied by two human rights officers from the SPT Secretariat.

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