Low Human Rights Standards in Prisons

In reaction to the poor human rights situation in the penal-correctional institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Civil Rights Defenders and the Bosnian Helsinki Committee have conducted eight monitoring missions in the country.

The findings from the visits, conducted in 2011, show a lack of basic hygiene conditions, bad nutrition and dental service, as well as detainees being subjected to ill treatment from other prisoners and the prison management.

One of the detainees reported inhumane and cruel treatment from the staff. He was tortured and locked up in the dungeon where he didn’t receive food and his health was endangered. He was denied the right to health treatment; instead the staff gave him drugs that made him lose consciousness.

“The monitoring visits show low human rights standards in the prisons. We have informed the prison administration about the team’s findings and warned the administration that some of the detainees’ testimonies indicate a direct violation of the Convention Against Torture and other international standards for prison conditions”, says Goran Miletic, Programme Director for Western Balkans at Civil Rights Defenders.

According to the monitoring team, some detainees reported that the prison staff was selling medicines and drugs to them. In a number of cases, phone calls were given only for money and the staff was not delivering letters from prisoners to responsible institutions, as they are obliged to do.

Civil Rights Defenders and the Helsinki Committe for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina have transformed their findings into several recommendations that will be reported to relevant ministries in Bosnia and Herzegovina.