Poland: Persons taken into police custody still run “appreciable risk” of being ill-treated, says anti-torture committee
A report published today by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) found that most people who were or recently had been in police custody reported correct treatment by the police.
However, although the report includes much praise, the delegation that visited Poland in late 2017 recorded enough allegations of physical ill-treatment – including punches and kicks – to conclude that “persons taken into police custody continue to run an appreciable risk of being ill-treated.”
The CPT calls on the Polish authorities to pursue “rigorously” their efforts to combat police ill-treatment. The report advises that police officers “throughout the country” should receive a “firm message that all forms of ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty are unlawful and will be punished accordingly”.
In its reply to the report, the Polish government disagrees with the conclusion, explaining that some allegations of ill treatment raised in the report are “insufficiently substantiated” (see the Polish version of the response).
Published on The Council of Europe website on July 25, 2018
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has in writing requested President Maithripala Sirisena to abolish the decision to enforce the capital punishment on drug traffickers and implement a powerful and long-term policy framework for the suppression of serious crime, including drug trafficking.
Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers earlier this week decided to implement the death sentence on convicted drug traffickers on death row, and the President said he will approve the measure.
The Human Rights Commission Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama, sending the Commission’s opinion on the death penalty to the President in writing, said the death penalty is a punishment system that is being condemned by the world.
The Commission stressed that the death penalty seriously violates several human rights, including the right to life and freedom from cruel and inhumane punishment, and is an extreme and irreversible punishment and ineffective as a deterrent to crime.
The Commission said it admits that there are huge social problems caused by drug trafficking, especially youths who are addicted to drugs exerting undue pressure on the future generations of the country and therefore, the drug smugglers are engaged in a seriously anti-social process.
“However, it is the Commission’s view that it can be successfully addressed not by the implementation of vindictive punishments such as death penalty, but by capturing the drug traffickers efficiently and properly and enforcing serious punishments appropriate to their crimes,” the HRCSL said.
If the convicted drug traffickers already in the jail engage with the outside world using new technology and carry out the drug trade, the correct solution should be to strengthen the security arrangements in the prison with modern technology and to constantly monitor the prison officers involved in these activities and effectively enforce law against them, the Commission pointed out.
The Commission further said that it’s a well-known fact that the main factor for the spread of drug trafficking in this scale is the support from political connections and some sections of law enforcement.
“We see that quick and ineffective solutions, such as implementing the death penalty without addressing the reasons, will not be successful in the long-term to save our society from this drug menace,” the Commission wrote to the President.
Published on the Daily Financial Times Sri Lanka on July 16, 2018
Ola Al-Qaradawi and her husband Hosam Khalaf, both in their 50s, were arrested at their vacation home in Alexandria on 30 June 2017, allegedly for their affiliation with the banned Muslim Brotherhood organization and for terrorist activities.
Ms. Al-Qaradawi is the daughter of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a leading Islamic scholar and member of the outlawed group, who lives in exile in Qatar.
She has been held in solitary confinement “in one of the worst prisons in Egypt”, the UN human rights office said on Tuesday. Her husband is being held in similar conditions in a different prison, according to media reports.
Ms. Al-Qaradawi has been denied visits from her family and lawyers, and recently began a hunger strike in protest.
“We understand that Ola Al-Qaradawi’s health is frail and deteriorating and urge the authorities to ensure that her right to health and to physical and psychological integrity is respected,” Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN human rights office, told journalists in Geneva.
“We call on Egypt to release all those arbitrarily detained in the country unconditionally.”
In June, a UN-mandated body issued a decision determining that Ms. Al-Qaradawi and her husband had been arbitrarily arrested, and called for their immediate release.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also determined that repeated renewals of 45-day detention orders against them resulted in ongoing violations of their rights to fair trial and due process.
Furthermore, Ms. Al-Qaradawi’s prolonged solitary confinement could also amount to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The decision stated that “The Working Group cannot but conclude that Ms. al-Qaradawi and Mr. Khalaf have been arrested and detained for their family ties with Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. This is the only plausible explanation for the subversion of the equal protection of the law they experienced”.
Published on UN News Center on July 3, 2018
The Doctors without Borders (MSF) reports that the majority of patients in its center for survivors of tortures and ill treatment are migrants, including minors, and expresses concern at how the incidence of torture in Libya is underestimated."Despite being contrary to international law, torture, ill treatment and abuse are still being used in many countries around the world and the global medical community is largely unprepared to identify survivors of these horrible practices amongst its patients," writes MSF, recalling how "the majority of patients at its rehabilitation centres for the survivors of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment are refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, including unaccompanied foreign minors".
950 people treated in 2018
"Many of the people we treat in Rome have come through Libya where they were tortured and ill-treated. It is essential for those of us who see the physical and mental consequences of torture every day to express our dissent with respect to those who speak of the rhetoric of torture," said MSF Italy head of mission Anna Garella.
The organisation runs rehabilitation centres for the survivors of torture, abuse and ill-treatment in Athens, Rome and other places along the migration routes. "Some people suffer this treatment in countries of transit or destination, while others flee from their country of origin to escape persecution, torture and abuse." The organisation explains that most suffer from chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
MSF launched its first project along a migration route in 2012. The Athens centre opened in October 2014, followed by centres in Rome and Mexico City the following year. Approximately 950 patients have been treated by 182 aid workers so far this year. Multidisciplinary support MSF staff work in teams of five - a doctor, a cultural mediator, a social worker, a physiotherapist and a psychologist.
They all meet with patients separately and then come together to draw up an appropriate treatment programme. "MSF uses a multidisciplinary approach because in this way all aspects of the patient's life are taken into consideration," writes the organisation, explaining that torture survivors are also offered legal assistance throughout their asylum application process.
"After years of working with patients we have come to realise that torture is more than a matter of health. It should be seen as a sociological and anthropological issue that has repercussions for physical health. It creates visible and invisible scars," said MSF doctor Gianfranco De Maio. "Our approach aims to help people rebuild their social relationships with others." .
Published on MSF on July 2, 2018