ARCT: Preventing torture and ill treatment in the Western Balkan countries

Supported by the EIDHR Global Call on Torture Prevention with the participation of Albania, Montenegro and Serbia

 Access to Justice/ consolidated safeguards for the respect of human rights in places of detention

Provision of legal assistance and services in the field of human rights to vulnerable detainees in prisons and respective families

Being consistent in providing access to justice for victims of violence and inhuman treatment, ARCT has offered assistance to persons in detention, specifically to reach out to the most vulnerable categories: chronically ill inmates, youngest offenders in prisons, and, overwhelmingly poor. People living in poverty and social exclusion come into contact with criminal and administrative controls and sanctions more than anyther group in society.

Some of the obstacles faced by poor prisoners, such as the cost of legal advice, administrative fees and other collateral costs, relate directly to their lack of financial resources. Other obstacles, however including lack of access to information and lack of legal recognition are harder to identify and arise out of discrimination against the most poorest and most marginalized.

When encountering the criminal justice system, people living in poverty are deprived of the means to challenge the conditions of their arrest, remand, trial, conviction, detention and release. In civil and administrative matters where legal aid is not available, persons living in poverty are often denied access to justice in matters involving property, welfare payments, and family matters such as child custody.

All these indicators are identified by scrupulous documentation of the findings from each monitoring visits, and accompanied by cases/ interviews which are identified during the screening process. Furthermore, based on the Albania’s UPR recommendations, the Albania’s progress report on the process of EU integration, and current Analytical Document on the Strategic priorities for the Justice system Reforms, the organization has been able to present data and argument decisions in various cases represented in the court.

Numerous violations and complaints were registered during 2015; the June 2015 local elections reflected a chaotic situation where extremely overpopulated prison facilities could not provide the right to vote too many inmates. Also, due to extreme high temperatures during the summer time, and the lack of medical supplies and medicaments, the situation of the chronically ill, and those suffering from mental disabilities was quite disturbing for the authorities. Parallel to these concerns, many complaints were raised through phone calls, letters and individual meetings with many inmates.

 

In parallel with the domestic mechanism to seek justice, ARCT has maintained the correspondence with the ECHR with regards to two cases: Pihoni v.Albania (submitted in November and accepted through official letter in late December 2013); and Tërshana v.Albania (of which we have not yet received confirmation). Both cases are based on the violations of the Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention for Human Rights.

 

ARCT expertise and knowledge for systematic, periodic and watchdog mission was evaluated by the Steering Committee, established to monitor the project implementation (EUD, OSCE, Diplomatic Corp in Albania and other HR personalities are members of the mentioned above Steering Committee). ARCT membership accreditation in the International Consortium round tables on prison detention, justice reforms and anti- corruption was an important activity in coordinating with other international bodies and donors and share relevant information of various activities.

 

During 2015, ARCT was invited in the process of the preparation of the commentaries and policy papers with regards to the Judiciary System Analytical Documents (a policy document which has provided recommendations with regards to the required Judiciary reforms in Albania). ARCT provided comments to the Law on the Treatment of the Detainees, the Law on the State Police, the Law on the Organization of the Ombudsperson, etc.

 

 

Being part of IRCT Global Alliance on fight against torture, member of OMCT, providing rehabilitation services for old and new victims of torture in Albania (medical services, social, psychological and legal assistance) remained a continuous priority for ARCT. A special emphasis was paid in assisting 6 former Guantanamo prisoners settled in Albania with social, and psychological, legal support.

(latest update: February 2016)

 

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