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Human Rights Sub-Committee Chairperson worried about CPT public statement concerning Bulgaria

The Chairperson of the PACE Sub-Committee on Human Rights, Meritxell Mateu Pi (Andorra, ALDE) is “deeply worried” about the public statement by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) on Bulgaria.

“The persistent failure, over many years, by the Bulgarian authorities to address the long-standing concerns of the CPT concerning, inter alia, ill-treatment of prisoners by police officers and prison guards, inter-prisoner violence, prison overcrowding and poor material conditions of detention is unacceptable in a State Party to the Council of Europe’s Anti-Torture Convention.”

“The CPT usually works behind the scenes, in close cooperation with national prison authorities. It is known to make use of the instrument of a public statement only very sparingly, so far no more than six times in its 25-year history. Each public statement is an urgent alarm call, when the CPT, by a two-thirds majority, has come to the conclusion that a member state has consistently failed to cooperate with the CPT in redressing particularly serious problems in the treatment of prisoners,” Ms. Mateu Pi said.

She concluded: “As Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights, I will not fail to raise this issue before this body, which regularly follows the work of the CPT and is involved in the selection of its members. We will discuss how we can best ensure that appropriate follow-up is given to the CPT’s dramatic call.”

In its public statement on Bulgaria, the CPT points out “the persistent failure by the Bulgarian authorities to address certain fundamental shortcomings in the treatment and conditions of detention of persons deprived of their liberty. The visit report highlighted a number of long-standing concerns, some of them dating back to the very first periodic visit to Bulgaria in 1995, as regards the phenomenon of ill-treatment (both in the police and the prison context), inter-prisoner violence, prison overcrowding, poor material conditions of detention in IDFs and prisons, inadequate prison health-care services and low custodial staffing levels, as well as concerns related to discipline, segregation and contact with the outside world.” (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), public statement concerning Bulgaria, page 2, paragraph 3, available at: http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/bgr/2015-03-26-eng.htm)