Cross Border Conference and Study on Detention Practices

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Regional Conference and launch of Comparative Study among Prisons in Albania and Republic of Macedonia

ARCT, being in partnership with the Centre for Civic Initiatives in Prilep, have successfully organized a Regional Conference “On the Social Inclusion of persons who served prison sentence” - Comparative Regional Approaches between Albania and FYROM -  25th of February, 2013

The Regional Conference was dedicated to the professional staff working in the penitentiary institutions in Albania and FYROM, engaged with the project activities. During this event, ARCT had closely cooperated with the General Prisons Directorate where an organizing committee has discussed the topics, and the organization of the panels. An extended list of invitations was distributed to prison authorities, CSOs, media. The People’s Advocate welcomed the panel of the representatives from the Ministry of Justice and prison directors and partner organizations from FYROM.

The conference main focus was based on the impact and the challenges, reforms in two countries, the legislative and structural developments, the institutional cooperation between civil society and state authorities. ARCT invited representatives from General Prisons Directorate, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, People’s Advocate, law faculty and academia, international community, WHO, OSCE, UNICEF, the President; Office counsellors, etc. The EU Delegation representatives participated in the event.

In his address to the Conference Mr. Igli Totozani paid attention to the cooperation with regards to the performance of the Albanian National Preventive Mechanism, and the fulfillment of the PA recommendations for the visiting institutions (prisons and pre-detention centres). The PA will expand its mandate with regards to inclusion of the process of rehabilitation and re-integration. This event is very important. We will raise this issue in our monitoring visits together with the ARCT.

The General Director for Legal, Educational and Institutional Issues at the GPD, Mr Arben Tusha in his address congratulated the ARCT for the event, and the successful cooperation during the implementation of the project. Social inclusion and rehabilitation were two main recommendations raised by ARCT with this project, accepted by the General Prisons Directorate and included for the impact of the penitentiary system. A lot has been done: the inclusion of the detainees in the social security scheme, the introduction of the Istanbul Protocol for the identification of cases of torture and ill treatment were direct results of ARCT contribution. Ministry of Justice has cooperated with the Ministry of Health to get the health services transferred under the responsibility of MoH; with the Ministry of Education to provide compulsory and professional education to fight illiteracy and introduce professions for proper integration of juveniles.

Having partners from FYROM creates a good possibility to discuss joint interventions, exchange experience and knowledge about the current development and legislation. Congratulations for the study - we found it very interesting.

The level of participation and contributions from the invitees was high, the discussions reflected similarities and identified the best practices in increasing the expertise of professional staff on appropriate evaluation, assessment and rehabilitation.

 The events was part of a cross-border initiative which was considered as continuity in service-provision and expertise through organization of capacity building activities; round table events, regional study visits and conferences, studies and publications which were massively frequented- through which evaluations forms, feedback, the contacts and data management system show that the impact was considerably high.

 Considering the data, dynamics and the wide spectrum of the detained population in Korça High Security prisons, ARCT considered it, an important component in evaluating the spectrum of the current services provided in the penitentiary system. When analyzing this aspect, we can stress a marked discrepancy between the laws pertaining treatment of inmates and the conditions under which they actually live. These discrepancies are mentioned as an escape gate for those criminals who can benefit from a corrupted judiciary system in Albania.

 The prison systems in both of the countries have their specificities and similarities enabling the possibility for effective comparison and sharing of best practices.




 The reforms of the penitentiary system in FYR Macedonia have been in progress since 2006, where the Direction for Execution of Sanctions together with the Government and the Ministry of Justice are working towards its alignment with the EU standards. Since 2010 there have been introduced some changes in the Law for execution of sanctions[1] aiming at alignment of the legal acts with the other decisions and regulations in order for successful implementation of the international standards for execution of sanctions and practicing of the human rights of the prisoners.

The type and structure of the penal intuitions in both of the countries is as follows:




FYR Macedonia

Total number of Penal institutions



High security institutions



Medium security institutions



Pretrial detention centers



Prison hospital



Juvenile Institutes/Educational Correctional Institutions for juveniles



In both of the countries the institutions are being classified into high-security prisons, medium security and low security, special institutions and pre-trial detention centers. The difference is only that the pretrial detention centers in the FYR Macedonia system are within the prison buildings. The maximum capacity within the Albanian system is for 4537 people.[7] The new institutions in Albania opened over the years 2008-20012,[8] fully comply with the international standards.[9] The institutions that have been inherited from the previous system have a weak infrastructure and do not meet the optimum standards for the treatment of persons with limited freedom. The 2011 report of the Ombudsman in Albania identified several other problems of the prison system, where the improvement of the living standards of prisoners and detainees through investments in maintenance, infrastructure and construction of new premises of security, were considered of great importance.[10] Similarly, in FYR Macedonia, 2011 Ombudsman report[11] the improvement of the living standards is recommended “in order to reduce the overcrowding and provide the basic preconditions for the implementation” of the measures.    

 Article 78 of the General Regulation of Prisons in Albania and Article 42 from the Law for Execution of sanctions additionally the [12]Directive for determination of the types and terms for treatment of the prisoners has prescribed the designation of the sentence plans, aiming the individualization of the programs for each prisoner. The purpose of these plans is the specification of the treatment of persons deprived of liberty, based on their needs, trends, age, personality, social and cultural education, aiming at the elimination of delinquent behavior and at the same time re-integration into the family and society.

Referring to the most recent developments of the prison system in both of the countries, efforts are made for the installation of an educational and integration system, through the implementation of a wide range of social and educational programs, aiming at reducing the number of recidivists, preparation for release and reintegration into society. As for example, in Albania, signing of cooperation agreements with other state institutions, such as the agreement with the Ministry of Education and Science, for the implementation of the schools programs within the prison system, or the memorandum of the understanding with the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, for the professional certification of the training courses organized in the penitentiary institutions, are seen as positive efforts for the installation of an educational system in the prison facilities, transforming the system into a rehabilitation and emancipation opportunity, for people with limited freedom.

 However, working and managing a prison is not that simple. Staffs who are employed in this system must act intelligently, shall be equipped with high professional skills, and furthermore, must recognize the functional and legal rules of a prison. Based on the axioms of the interpersonal communication, the level of the content of the message and the level of the relationship between staff are seen as important elements in this system, because the failure of communication on these two levels, compromises the integrity and the security of the entire prison system.

 Monitoring and documentation has created a solid basis for multilevel interventions: a) for the identification of the cases and provision of legal assistance and court representation for those detainees who have requested such service from ARCT; b) institutional changes and improvements; ARCT has developed a protocol for the documentation of violence and ill treatment in detention based on the principles of Istanbul Protocol.

 Continuous dialogue was raised with representatives of GDP and Ministry of Justice on the draft law (and the law) on the amnesty. ARCT has introduced commentaries on the categories that should have benefited by the law and 3 out of 7 recommendations were accepted. During 2012, ARCT participated in public hearings organized by the Parliamentary Commission of Labour, Social Affairs and Health and introduced entire correspondence on drafting and amending the law on mental health (introducing the standards of OECD and the WHO). The law is approved and the ARCT has participated in the consultations for the preparation of the secondary normative acts and regulations.

 Distribution of ARCT publications (journal, posters and thematic leaflets, reports accompanied by concrete recommendations, meetings with international community of donors etc), increased the importance of dealing with these categories of vulnerable groups; Professional and academic personalities from health, law and human rights expressed interest through participation in the activities and publication distribution lists. Building cooperation and exchange similarities and differences through analysis and research during the first year of project activities.

 Public events and training expanded the scope of participants and stakeholders in the project, amounting to respectively 140 prison staff (executives, medical and police, support and tutorial staff) in 10 days of project activities (2012 -2013).

Publications (Titles 2011 -2012):

  1. oARCT Journal “Social Inclusion for persons who serve detention” - 2 numbers (2012-2013)
  2. oRegional Study/Needs assessment on Social Inclusion for persons who serve detention and Rehabilitation (2012)
  3. o2 posters (published in 100 copies each copies each);
  4. o5 leaflets (200 copies each);
  5. o4 newsletters in 300 copies each


Based on the assessment and evaluations, ARCT considered the project having a strong and direct impact on the detained population covered by the action, and proper treatment of this category etc; (b) on prison medical, legal, educational and security professionals from training and capacity building activities, (c) participatory and partnership-based approach, with a strong emphasis on local project ownership and commitment, etc.


Facts and figures:

-          Monitoring visits performed and each of the regional activity used as a follow up mission had influenced in improving the treatment of the detained population, reducing shortcoming in medical treatments and medications, raised the concerns related to the social integration/ rehabilitation and employment rights.

-          Training of 60 prison medical, legal, educational and security professionals improved the performance and documentation in respective detention centres, on forensic principles and services.

-          Public events and participation of 1200 representatives of state authorities, NGOs, media, academia, international community, embassies created a possibility to prioritize the issue of the treatment of the detainees and services that should be provided.

-          Regional activities and publications raised importance of coordination of legislative, institutional measures along with open minded staff, and well oriented rehabilitation programs.


In the long run, beneficiaries of the training were professionals working in the penitentiary system whose awareness on the different aspects of imprisoned inmates and capacity to work with them is increased: respective ministries in two countries have established good and sustainable partnerships and developed joint recommendations.


Also, considering the regional dimension, the project outcomes are considered important in the exchange of best practices and services, reports and actions – showing in this way development, results and achievements in term of activities, and maintaining countries’ priorities in fulfilling international standards in the aspects of human dignity for persons in conflict with law, and prioritizing proper interventions in specific cases.


Maintaining constant operative communication between the centre and various stakeholders such as the General prisons Directorate, partner organizations that were found active in the field, international community such as the European Commission, allowing continuous feedback on the partners’ activities is considered another important check point for the project.

The ARCT continuous presence and contacts with all prison staff and inmates was an indicator of assessment of the work performed by ARCT.


The project’s impact has been achieved also through number of the publications, and issues rose in the political arena and the continuous documented requests for ARCT services.


On-the-spot events were an added value for the project.

Throughout project period, ARCT has been contributing through publications as following:

  • 4 Professional training courses on human rights and mental health in Korça Prison
  1. o60 prison staff trained
  • 2 Round Table discussions on Torture Monitoring in Albania, applicability of international documents into domestic legislation, Monitoring mechanisms, and best practices
  1. o40 representatives engaged
  • 8 Monitoring visits the detention system and documentation
  1. oMore than 65 inmates interviewed
  • 2 posters (published in 100 copies each copies each);
  • 5 leaflets (200 copies each);
  • 4 newsletters in 300 copies each
  • ARCT Journal “Social Inclusion of persons who served detention”:
  1. oFirst and second number -in 500 copies each
  • Preparation of the Comparative Analysis study on the “Regional recommendations for reintegration of prisoners”; (prepared in Albanian and in English by ARCT, published by the CCI, FYROM)
  • 2 study visits dedicated to regional exchange of experiences and practices:
  1. oWhere 16 prison staff instead of 7 planned were participating in Korça Prison and organized by ARCT
  • Organization of the Regional Conference “On the Social Inclusion of persons who served prison sentence” - Comparative Regional Approaches between Albania and FYROM
  1. oFinal recommendations launched


During preparation and the publication, ARCT has used all basic visibility elements such as the EU logo, and the disclaimer and project details, contact name, address, telephone, fax and e-mail in all the activities such as training seminars, publication of leaflets, journals and study, as well as the web site (where over 7000 web users were registered using project materials).

The distribution process followed an already established procedure of sending PDF electronic versions to the e-mailing list of stakeholders, diplomatic community, international organizations, and hard-copies to local national state authorities, heads of EU Embassies and International organizations. Special number of copies was distrusted during monitoring visits of ARCT in special prisons.

[1]Law for revision of the Law for execution of sanctions (Official Gazette n.57 from 26.04.2010)

[2] Tiranë (Jordan Misja, Mine Peza, Ali Demi), Vaqarr, Durrës, Kavajë, Peqin, Lezhë, Burrel, Tepelenë, Vlorë, Sarandë, Berat, Tropojë, Kukës, Korçë, Krujë, Fushë-Krujë, Prisons Hospital, Rrogozhinë, Lushnjë and Elbasan

[3] Penitentiary-Correctional Institutions (PCI) Idrizovo, Struga and Shtip

[4] Prisons – Prilep, Bitola, Gevgelija, Kumanovo, Skopje, Strumica, Tetovo, Ohrid

[5] These centers are within the already existing buildings of the prisons

[6] Educational Correctional Institution for juveniles in Tetovo – for male juveniles and in Skopje for female juveniles

[7] Drejtoria e Përgjithshme e Burgjeve, janar 2012

[8] Durrës, Kavajë, Fushë-Krujë, Korçë, Vlorë and Elbasan

[9] Idem

[10] People;s Advocate, annual report 2011

[12] Directive for determination of the types and terms for treatment of the prisoners n. 07 – 4690/1 06. 12. 2011