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PACE calls for stronger action to eradicate torture and ill-treatment in places of detention in Europe

Constantinos EFSTATHIOU (Cyprus, SOC)

Adopting a resolution on allegations of systemic torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in places of detention in Europe, based on a report by Constantinos Efstathiou (Cyprus, SOC), the Assembly today called for enhanced measures to combat and eliminate torture and other forms of ill-treatment in detention facilities.

“The Council of Europe must ensure that the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is upheld. Persons in detention are in a vulnerable position, and States are under a duty to protect their physical well-being and to account for any injuries suffered”, the Assembly said.

Parliamentarians strongly condemned “the systemic or widespread use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment” in States such as Russia, Azerbaijan and Türkiye and cited reports that reveal videos and photos of torture and ill-treatment in Russian prisons, ‘Terter cases’ in Azerbaijan where detainees were subjected to “horrendous methods of torture” with the purpose of extracting confessions and, despite earlier progress in this area, the resurgence of torture and ill-treatment in police custody and prisons in Türkiye.

The Assembly, therefore, stressed the urgent need for concrete action and proposed a series of recommendations to member States and States parties to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT Convention).

These recommendations include reviewing national legislation to ensure appropriate penalties for torture and ill-treatment, abolishing limitation periods for such crimes, guaranteeing access to fundamental procedural safeguards from the very outset of the deprivation of liberty, implementing video-taping of interrogations, regulating the duration of police interviews, promoting investigative interviewing based on evidence rather than coercion., and establishing accessible and effective remedies which ensure that victims receive prompt and adequate reparation.

Finally, the Assembly called on States parties to the CPT Convention to agree in advance to the automatic publication of CPT visit reports as a general rule and ensure the follow-up of CPT recommendations, including through the active engagement of national parliaments. It also invited the CPT and the European Court of Human Rights to indicate more explicitly in their reports and decisions whenever practices of torture and ill-treatment are of a systemic or structural nature in the country concerned.