SARAJEVO, September 8 (FENA) – Head of the Council of Europe’s Office in BiH, Drahoslav Stefánek, confirmed in an interview with FENA that we can soon expect publishing of the report by the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which carried out the regular monitoring in June this year, of the prisons and detention units in BiH.
Interviewer: Senka Trgovčević
Štefánek explains that this publication depends on the domestic authorities, given that Article 11 of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment specifies that the Committee publishes its report “whenever the Contracting Party requests it”.
“I have to mention that the reports and findings of the Committee are extremely useful for the improvement of any prison system because they identify problems and suggest ways of solving them,” says Štefánek.
Among other things, experts in the report will make recommendations for improving the governance in BiH prisons and the establishment of health protocols.
“Healthcare in prisons is in the competence of the ministries of justice. In some countries, it is in the competence of the ministry of health.
Whichever solution is chosen by the authorities, it is important that it is comparable to community healthcare,” said Štefánek.
The Council of Europe, through a joint project with the European Union ‘Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey’, which was implemented in 2016-2019, has developed a set of protocols for the treatment in prisons in the provision of health care.
Thus, “with the advice of international experts,” domestic experts tried to coordinate treatment in cases of addiction, self-harm, hunger strikes and the like.”
“The point is that the treatment in all jurisdictions and prison systems in BiH becomes uniform, ensuring equal human rights for all prisoners, regardless of the type of crime or the length of sentence, which is the meaning of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture. I would not evaluate the progress, but we are satisfied with the materials made within the project,” said Štefánek.
In the European Security Program, one of the five priorities concerns preventing radicalization in prisons and developing effective deradicalization programs.
To this end, representatives of the Council of Europe, with local prison experts and justice ministries in BiH, are working to bring the conditions and practices in the BiH prisons closer to European standards.
“With our technical assistance and renowned international experts, local experts have already laid some groundwork for working with this prison category. For example, a risk assessment instrument has been designed for this category of the prison population for the environment and the community, treatment programs have been designed to try to act on that category. A number of prison staff have been trained to implement these instruments and programs and have been piloted at several institutions,” says Štefánek.
With the financial support of primarily the UK government and USAID, he hopes these activities will be intensified.
“From my contacts with colleagues in the region, I know that projects in this field in BiH are some kind of forerunner and that the advice of local experts is often requested even beyond BiH,” adds Štefanek.
This year, the Council of Europe continues the project of the School of Political Studies (SPS) of BiH, which will be attended by thirty young people. Among other things, they will participate in the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg.
He believes that Bosnia and Herzegovina can hope for better times if young people are trained to reflect on democracy and if they are presented with instruments that can promote democracy in our country.