Natisni vsebino

Success of the National Preventive Mechanism in Preventing Torture or Other Cruel Treatment

13.06.2017 13:02
Category: work and news

 “Conducting planned preventive visits has helped us achieve important success in preventing torture and other cruel treatment, and many of the visited institutions have improved their living conditions and treatment of persons deprived of liberty following our recommendations,” remarked Human Rights Ombudsman Vlasta Nussdorfer during the presentation of part of the National Preventive Mechanism in 2016 at today’s press conference.

She also added that the NPM became an independent unit in 2015. Consequently, the team composed of three Ombudsman’s advisors under the guidance of the Ombudsman’s deputy Ivan Šelih together with selected non-governmental organisations and two experts in healthcare increased their number of visits to 80 in 2016 from 39 in 2014 last year. Furthermore, the quality of the visits has improved, and the team uses its expertise to participate in the drafting and modification of legislation, provide trainings, and actively participate in the international arena, added the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman’s deputy Ivan Šelih, also head of the National Preventive Mechanism, expressed his satisfaction that the systematic analysis of recommendations introduced last year showed that the vast majority of 674 NPM recommendations issued in 2016 had been implemented or approved. The reasons why recommendations have not been implemented are usually linked to financial consequences, e.g. installing a better video surveillance system at police stations and renovating rundown rooms in educational institutions, the lack of will to implement the agreed solutions, e.g. with regard to the establishment of a paedopsychiatric institution, or the lack of personnel, outdated and deficient norms and similar.
Last year the NPM conducted 80 visits to several detention locations, i.e. 34 police stations, 24 homes for the elderly, 7 prisons, 3 special social protection institutes, 4 educational institutions for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioural disorders, 5 psychiatric hospitals, and 3 locations classified as detention locations for foreign citizens (the Aliens Centre and centres for receiving and placing refugees/migrants). The overwhelming majority of visits were unannounced.

During these visits the NPM verifies the legal bases for reception, the living conditions and the treatment of detained persons. In addition, other conditions and standards are verified depending on the type of the institution where the preventive visit is being conducted, added the Ombudsman’s deputy.

He pointed out that the special social protection institute was actually the home of adult persons with special needs, wherefore the living conditions there were all the more important and wherefore drawing attention to their possible inadequacy was an important mission of the NPM. In one such institution the NPM pointed out that only bathing the residents once every three weeks can already be regarded as cruel treatment.

He pointed out the problem of placing persons in social protection institutes by court order under the Mental Health Act, which is dealt with by the Ombudsman inter alia on account of received petitions. The state must provide for the suitable treatment of demented patients and finally update the Mental Health Act as decided by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia.

A particularly urgent issue is the problem of children and adolescents with combined disorders who are not given adequate paedopsychiatric treatment and assistance. He expressed his expectation that a single national secure facility for children and adolescents would be established soon.

Again he pointed out that the Aliens Centre was not a suitable place for accommodating people for a longer period of time, nor is it suitable for vulnerable groups, especially children. It is therefore necessary to find an alternative system solution for short-term placement, as well as to find systematic solutions in other institutions for longer-term placement.

He also presented some examples of implemented recommendations. With regard to one home for the elderly, the NPM discovered that coffee was being served only to those residents whose relatives could pay for this service. The NPM made them aware of the unnecessary social distinction and exclusion of residents. Coffee is now being made every day for all residents who are allowed to and wish to drink it.

Last year, NPM participated in the drafting of the new Police Tasks and Powers Act, the Criminal Procedure Act, the Criminal Code (KZ-1E) and other regulations by providing its comments in accordance with Article 19 of the Optional Protocol.

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