Monday, 19 February 2018

Closing EU funded Project on Disabilities in detention

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Closing the Project “On human treatments of persons with disabilities in detention” (2011-12), supported by the European Union

During 2011-12, the ARCT had succesfully implemented a 2-years project on Improving health care and well-being for disabled persons in detention; the project secured grounds of documentation, periodic judiciary (ex-officio) reviews[1], ongoing and independent inspections of places of detention focusing on disabled groups. This data review was constantly shared with all target groups and the international expertise with regards to monitoring visits. Training and capacity building for medical prison staff, psycho-social staff and prison police on how to monitor/ document health conditions of the beneficiaries and document patients’ diagnosis in detention improved their institutional knowledge and reduced discrepancies. This fact boosted the national capacity to conduct medical-legal documentation of human rights violations in accordance with international standards. The project improved the conditions for detained population and victims of torture by ensuring the establishment and functioning of an effective documentation mechanism, which helped to promote transparency and good-governance in places of detention. By being informed of their rights the detainees were empowered to take action against violations of their rights.

When analyzing the detention conditions in Albania's penitentiary system, we can stress a marked discrepancy between the laws pertaining treatment of those disabled inmates and the conditions under which they actually live. These discrepancies are mentioned in using the “disability” as an escape gate for those criminals who can benefit from a corrupted judiciary system in Albania.

Efforts have been put forwards for the improvement of the system, yet there was a failure in managing the Kruja Penitentiary institution (with a number of 70 detainees); after a long time after reconstruction of Durrësi facilities/establishment the issues of provision of forensic and psychiatric evaluation have been constantly raised by the external monitors. 

The identification of the disability concept was referring to the definition of the UN Convention for persons with disabilities and other related documents of WHO. The disabled detainees were identified and registered in ARCT database where a classification and geographical distribution was presented to EUD for consideration. The project components were integrated and implemented in a coordinated framework. 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. The Protocol is available and at use by medical doctors in the penitentiary system (PTD, PRI and special institutions of Kruja and Prisons Hospital), producing cases and identifying the police brutality during arrest and transfers; A consolidated manual introducing the legislative and institutional framework for use by the medical staff working in the penitentiary system, was widely distributed through training and capacity building sessions in all prisons and detention facilities.

 

The Project was implemented in a very important momentum where the law on the Mental Health was approved and many aspects on the community treatment and the torture prevention articles were incorporated in the Act, opening a possibility for CSOs and granting free access in psychiatric hospitals, detention, and police custody. An intensive campaign on the UN Convention of the rights of persons with disabilities and clear recommendation towards ratification was raised right after the publication of the Observation of the UN Committee Against Torture; and, the publication of the EU Progress Report on Albania raised concerns on why there is an urgent need to give attention to disabled with respect of human dignity and non-discrimination.

During 2012, ARCT was engaged with drafting legal amendments and discussions with Albanian National Preventive Mechanism on the Mental Health Law: the draft law prepared by the Ministry of Health did not include the mentally ill detainees and also doesn’t address the role of the Albanian state police during arrest and accompaniment of a person with mental disabilities. 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.

By the end of 2012, the ARCT was able to provide legal assistance, participate in court reviews, evaluate with forensic expertise and maintain the services to 8 cases of the detainees suffering from various forms of mental illnesses (accomplishing the overall of 15 cases); documenting methods and consequences of their (miss)treatment in the past and present, and participate with concrete recommendations for their well-being in detention.

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.

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); and 105 professional prison staff trained (of which 20 trainers and 85 medical doctors, nurses pharmacists, police officers) (2011).

 Publications (Titles 2011 -2012):

  1. ARCT Journal “Torture and Trauma” - 3 numbers (2011, 2012)
  2. Study/Needs assessment on human treatments of persons with disabilities in detention (completion of the data collection in all penitentiary system (2012)
  3. 2 promotional leaflets on rights of persons with disabilities (2011)
  4. 2 promotional posters (2011)
  5. Manual on Treatment of persons with disabilities, dedicated to professional medical staff in prisons (2011)
  6. ARCT Annual Report (2012)


[1] The procedures and ttreatment should be made upon court decision - under Section 46, paragraph 1, of the Penal Code