Croatia’s detention facilities in spotlight as UN torture prevention body concludes visit


Croatia has made progress in improving detention conditions in the country, but much more needs to be done, including tackling overcrowding and its negative impact on people deprived of their liberty, UN experts said.

The comments came at the end of a visit to Croatia by the UN Subcommittee for Prevention of Torture (SPT), when the delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to the Croatian authorities on how to strengthen the protection of people deprived of their liberty against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“While we appreciate the efforts made by Croatia, more effective measures are needed to address the problem of overcrowding in the country’s prisons and the consequent stress on both detainees and staff,” said Marie Brasholt, who headed the SPT delegation to Croatia. “We believe that greater use of alternatives to detention will contribute to decreasing the number of people held in detention, thus improving the living conditions of those detained,” she added.

The SPT visited various places of deprivation of liberty, including prisons, penitentiaries, police and migration centres, and social care homes. They also held discussions with Government officials and the national monitoring body of Croatia, officially known as the national preventive mechanism (NPM). The delegation also accompanied members of the NPM during their visits to a prison and a police detention facility.

“For the prevention system to function effectively, it is imperative that the relevant institutions engage with the NPM on its recommendations and findings. At the same time, the State party should ensure that the mechanism is independent and well-resourced to carry out its preventive mandate,” Brasholt stated.

The SPT monitors how States that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) are fulfilling their treaty obligations, including establishing an independent national preventive mechanism.

Croatia ratified the Optional Protocol in 2005.

The SPT delegation comprised of Marie Brasholt, Head of Delegation (Denmark), Uju Agomoh (Nigeria), Satyabhooshun Gupt Domah (Mauritius), Daniel Fink (Switzerland), Zdenka Perović (Montenegro), and was accompanied by two human rights officers from the SPT Secretariat.

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