Advocacy and Campainging

AWARENNESS AND CAPACITY BUILDING

During 2011 ARCT has persistently working to promote the important role that civil society actors should play in promoting human rights respect in the country.

ARCT Strategic Document 2012-17 has been under development, scrutiny and review of international experts. This document includes guiding principles and interventions, developments and keywords for the next 5 years.

 

The ‘ARCT Position Papers’ have been directly contributing as an advocacy tool in reviewing the penitentiary developments, such as the improvements in the Mental health system; the UN Convention for the rights of persons with disabilities, and changes in the police community education.

Additionally, the issue of integration of former political persecuted has remained a priority, as ARCT is the only one organization in the country dealing with this marginalized and vulnerable group of population[1]; decomunistization, meetings and discussions with EU high ranking representatives and embassies on the first draft report on national strategy for human rights defenders in Albania; contributing on human rights of former Guantanamo prisoners in Albania.

The 2011 Study on Prevalence of torture is based on the identification of the cases of violence, providing cases stories and interviews taken to prisoners who reported violence and ill treatments, mapping prison current situation and possibilities for structural and institutional improvements.

 

A Round Table “The experience of the Albanian NPM and the OPCAT requirements” was organized in 14 October 2011.

 

This event was considered a concrete opportunity and exchange of experiences among professionals and the methodology of preparing the government’s responses to CoE Committee for the Prevention of Torture. the People’s Advocate and ARCT have launched the review on 3 progressive reports published under the ARCT Journal (no.5) Extra.  

The Regional Seminar with Civil Society Organizations, 7-9 December 2011: represents a coalition of diverse membership of more than 20 national and regional organizations, state institutions and prison authorities, media professionals and academics, human rights defenders from Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Italy (recently added) that work to promote and protect the rights and human treatment of people in detention.

The Presence of ombudsman offices from Albania and Kosovo were an added value for the activity raising the importance of the cooperation and partnerships in monitoring torture and ill treatment according to OPCAT requirements. The OSCE, Kosovo raises awareness in networking and using of best practices in the region.

NGOs Network’s meeting was organized on 21 November 2011, where civil society representatives from ACHR, Women’s Network, Albanian Helsinki Committee, CRCA, Refractions, Meridia, Italy and “Mjaft” Movement  were invited to discuss common interests, possible cooperation, optimization of the project impacts and contribution in the penitentiary system. Various initiatives were presented and a platform for specific interventions was finalized. 

 

Campaign in support of 26 June - UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

As part of the national Campaign against torture, and on the commemoration of 26th of June, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, ARCT, as member of the International Torture Centers Network[2], was jointly raising its voice, readins out the IRCT statement, interpreting in concrete interventions, and raise awareness through a Press Declaration and an e-Campaign.

A special activity was organized in Jordan Misja Prison with participation of prison administration staff from 21 penitentiary institutions, and international experts. 

Another activity was organized in Postribe, commemorating the first anti-communist protest in the Balkans, with the participation of local government, media, former political persecuted and associations representing the FPPs.

CHANGING MENTALITIES…

Through Commitment, Education and Training 

 

An Exhibition entitled “Democracy cannot be built upon forgetfulness” was organized on February 21st, 2011 at the Presidency premises.

Students, former political persecuted, relatives from these families, academia, media expected with great sensitivity this unusual activity that took place under the auspices of the Institution of the President of the Republic, because its topic carries not just an undeniable historical, political, social and moral truth, but just the message that is contains must disturb our social conscience and keep alive our national memory!

His Excellency Prof. Dr. Bamir Topi, the President of the Republic of Albania in his opening speech expressed that “The democracy we are trying to build so painfully, sacrifices and dedication for more than over two decades must really not have its roots based upon forgetfulness. Even worse, on the failed efforts to distribute and justify the measure of responsibility by tenting to make same the sufferers with the committers, the persecuted with the inquisitors. That is why we need such a photo-exhibition from which we can learn more. That is why we need books, documentaries, museums, artistic works and memorial stories! That is why we need live testimonies of the survivors from prisons and camps of communist persecution and memorial of the victims! Today more than ever!”

The President of the Republic of Albania, due to enormous interest, dedicated the exhibition to the public for 7 days.

The National Conference “Opening places of detention to Monitoring: gathering state authorities, civil society actors and international community was held today to discuss the situation of human rights in prisons and detention centres in Albania and promote civil society monitoring of the penitentiary. This Conference was organized on April 12, 2011. Reform of the penitentiary system is one of the 12 key priorities that Albania needs to address in order to be considered for EU membership.

The Opinion of the European Commission on Albania’s readiness for candidate status pointed out several shortcomings in Albania’s penitentiary system, especially persisting overcrowding of prisons and cases of ill-treatment. Apart from improved infrastructure, human resources and use of alternative sentences, enhanced civil society involvement would be beneficiary to the overall penitentiary system in Albania. A strong civil society role is important especially in terms of monitoring the situation of human rights in places of detention, pushing the reform agenda, and training penitentiary personnel. The conference held today focused on main achievements in the penitentiary system, current developments in the institutional reforms, needs and commitments.

During the conference, the Head of the EU Delegation to Albania, Ambassador Ettore Sequi emphasized the importance of penitentiary reform for rule of law, noting that “The challenges of reforming the penitentiary system will require sufficient resources in the long run, resources beyond donor assistance, which can guarantee a sound operation of the penitentiary structures and probation services”.  The Conference was mentioned in the website of the EUD:

http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/albania/press_corner/all_news/news/2011/20110413_en.htm

A national Conference Access to Justice for vulnerable groups, with the participation of 50 representatives from prison authorities, probation services, NGOs, volunteers was organized on 27 May 2011.

The Conference was the latest activity within the project context: with the participation of and support of GPD, state authorities, NGOs, journalists and volunteers, People’s Advocate Office, etc, ARCT   organized an event in which issues of basic principles of monitoring, international standards, services provided to vulnerable categories, in detention, best practices in implementing anti-discrimination policies and case law were discussed. The Conference was organized on the eve of the amendments to the GPD prisons regulations and organization

In cooperation with the GPD Training Centre, ARCT experts were engaged in organizing 4 days- accredited training for prison staff (5-6 and 26-27 July 2011) aiming at providing knowledge on national and international human rights standards, including the UNCAT and OPCAT, Istanbul Protocol, health issues, mental health legislation and services etc. The training included medical staff and support staff (nurses, educators, tutors, etc). The training provided a possibility to monitor and internal operation procedures in the prison system and allows the ARCT to tailor recommendations for improvements of places of detention within the prison system.

On 11th of October, 2011 ARCT and European University of Tirana organized a Training Seminar on “Monitoring Prisons and helping from outside”, bringing together students from the law faculty, DND and MAs to further explore the Monitoring Prisons and helping from outside.

On 21th of October 2011, the ARCT organized training with investigative journalists and students. The training was focus on international documents and the work of media in documenting the cases of torture and ill-treatment.

 

Professional Expertise was provided in jointly developing a set of indicators in evaluating  and identifying a case of torture from a case of ill-treatment, followed by the piloting of the Format of Torture Documentation (based on the Istanbul Protocol);  

Evaluating the request for professional expertise in the methods of restraining for mentally ill inmates, the medicaments list, and the proper treatment from the prison staff, ARCT in cooperation with the GPD, has completed a Protocol of treatment and knowledge for persons with disabilities. It was the closing of series of Training of Trainers and 8 cascade training courses (November- December 2011) for medical and police staff.

During 2011, the ARCT was invited to organize TV interviews and publish in the newsletter “Panorama”, “Republika”, “Shekulli”, “SOT”, “Deutche Welle” etc to raise awareness on torture related issues.



 

 

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