The Council of Europe warns of mistreatment in Spanish prisons and police stations

Problems in prisons and police stations. This is what has been detected by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) of the Council of Europe - a pan-European body not dependent on the EU that brings together 47 countries - in its last visit to Spain and that has reflected in a report published this tuesday. During the September 2020 visit, the CPT delegation examined the treatment and detention conditions of men and women held in various prisons and in the two prison psychiatric hospitals in Alicante and Seville, as well as in a detention center for minors in Algeciras. In addition, the treatment and guarantees offered to persons deprived of liberty by the police were examined.

Thus, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in its report urges the Spanish authorities to take "decisive measures to prevent ill-treatment in prison and to guarantee that cases are investigated effectively." It also proposes measures to improve the treatment of prisoners and patients held in prison psychiatric hospitals and to deal with ill-treatment by police officers.

"Most of the people interviewed during the visit stated that the officers had treated them correctly," the report states. However, the CPT delegation "received a significant number of complaints of mistreatment," states the document, which details about twenty, "mainly against the National Police, consisting of slaps, punches and kicks, as well as, occasionally, the use of of batons in order to force people to provide information, confess crimes or punish them for the alleged crime committed. "

In this sense, the committee "emphasizes the importance of adequate supervision and training of agents."

In the adult male prisons visited - Castellón II, Madrid V and VII, Sevilla II and Valencia Picassent - the CPT delegation received "many consistent and credible complaints of recent physical abuse by prison officials, consisting mainly of slaps on the head and body, punches, kicks and blows with truncheons, "the report relates:" In several cases, the alleged ill-treatment was supported by injuries documented by the delegation or noted in the person's medical history. "

The delegation also received "several credible complaints from persons whose soles of the feet had been subjected to repeated baton blows, a method of torture known as falaka."

According to the report, "abuse appears to be a punitive reaction to recalcitrant inmate behavior. Addressing such behavior requires more rigorous supervision by management, training of staff in control, containment and de-escalation techniques, accurate documentation of all injuries and the immediate reporting of all reports of ill-treatment to the tax authorities. "

With regard to the problem that leads to the mechanical fixation of a person to a bed, the report points out "the considerable progress made in all prisons in Spain in reducing both the number and the duration of the application of the measure. However, the CPT considers that the objective must continue to be to abolish this measure in prison, as it is exposed to abuse. "

With regard to female prisoners, the report calls for "a gender-specific approach that takes into account the needs of women, for example in relation to the range of activities offered, and the adoption of a policy to prevent acts of self-harm ".

The CPT report is also critical of the treatment and conditions offered to patients in the two penitentiary psychiatric hospitals (PPH) in Alicante and Seville, and considers that "they must enjoy full institutional and functional separation from the prison service and be under the responsibility of the national health system. At the same time, there should be a paradigm shift in the treatment of forensic patients based on the principles of individualized treatment, away from the current approach based on pharmacotherapy ".

In both hospitals, the delegation "received some complaints of physical mistreatment consisting of blows with rubber batons and painful and inadequate mechanical fixations," says the report: "The CPT is critical of the practice of prolonged periods of confinement imposed on patients , which last up to four months, without due legal guarantees or adequate judicial review. "

At the La Marchenilla Detention Center for Minors in Algeciras, the CPT delegation had a "positive impression of the solidary attitude of the staff and of the individual therapeutic and rehabilitation plans proposed for each resident." However, "several minors complained about the behavior of security personnel in restraining them" and the CPT also found that the minors "continued to be subjected to prolonged periods of mechanical fixation and were forcibly injected with medications while they were being fixed." Consequently, the CPT "once again urges the Spanish authorities to abolish the mechanical fixation of minors at the national level."

In their response, the Spanish authorities "show a constructive and substantive dialogue, provide information on the actions taken to combat ill-treatment in prisons, reduce the number of people held in closed-regime modules, limit the use of mechanical fixation, and adopt a gender perspective in prisons. jails ".

The Spanish authorities agree that PPHs should be transferred to the responsibility of the health authorities to provide a more appropriate therapeutic environment. Finally, it is reported that measures are being taken to implement various recommendations relating to minors, in particular to abolish the practice of fixing children in Centers for Minors throughout Spain.


Thus, the report of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture indicates that "concerted action is necessary to address the problem of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials." And it provides guidance: "This should include a clear message from the Interior Minister and police chiefs that such behavior is illegal and unprofessional, and that it will be punished accordingly." Furthermore, the CPT "reiterates the importance of proper supervision and training of officers, and of the need to carry out effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment. It also underlines the importance of security camera recordings being stored for a minimum of 30 days in all facilities ".


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