The risk of sanctions following visits by monitoring bodies; a study conducted in Albania and Honduras

  • Marie Brasholt DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture
  • Brenda van den Bergh DIGNITY- Danish Institute Against Torture
  • Erinda Bllaca Albanian Rehabilitation Center for Trauma and Torture (ARCT), Albania
  • Alba Mejía Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de Víctimas de la Tortura (CPTRT), Honduras
  • Marie My Warborg Larsen DIGNITY- Danish Institute Against Torture
  • Anne Katrine Graudal Levinsen DIGNITY- Danish Institute Against Torture
  • Jens Simon Modvig DIGNITY- Danish Institute Against Torture
Keywords: Reprisals, Sanctions, Prison Monitoring, Albania, Honduras

Abstract

Introduction: Independent monitoring of places of detention is considered an effective way of preventing torture, but some reports have shown that detainees may face reprisals after engaging with monitors.This pilot study aims to further investigate the nature and the extent of such reprisals.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey among male prisoners in 4 prisons in Albania and 4 in Honduras was carried out using an interviewer-administered, structured questionnaire and collecting additional narrative comments. Strict ethical guidelines were followed, and follow-up visits took place to detect any sanctions following participation in the study.

Results: 170 detainees were invited to participate of whom 164 accepted. Most were aware of monitoring visits and found them helpful. More than one-third reported that au- thorities had made special arrangements like cleaning and painting prior to the monitoring visits, and 34% of participants in Albania and 12% in Honduras had felt pressured to act in a specific way towards the monitors. One- fifth had experienced sanctions after the last monitoring visit, most often threats and humiliations. During the follow-up visits, the interviewees reported no incidents following their participation in the study.

Discussion: This pilot study has shown that it is possible to collect information about detainees’ experience with monitoring visits through interviews while they are still detained. The fact that reprisals are reported prior to and following monitoring visits points to the need of improving monitoring methodology to further lower the risk. Further research is needed to better understand the dynamics of the sanctions taking place with the aim of reaching a deeper understanding of potential preventive measures.

References

Albania | World Prison Brief. (2019). https://www.prisonstudies.org/country/albania

Amnesty International. (2008). Mauritania:Torture at the heart of the state. https://www.refworld.org/docid/49365b2026.html

APT. (2012). Mitigating the risks of Sanctions related to Detention Monitoring. Association for the Prevention of Torture. Geneva. https://www.apt.ch/content/files_res/Briefing4_en.pdf

Carver, R., & Handley, L. (Eds.). (2016). Does torture prevention work? Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture. (2015). 24th General Report of the CPT. Council of Europe.

Honduras | World Prison Brief. (2019). https://www.prisonstudies.org/country/honduras

OHCHR. (n.d.). National Preventive Mechanisms. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/NationalPreventiveMechanisms.aspx

OHCHR. (2010, February 10). Report on the visit of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to Honduras. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CAT%2fOP%2fHND%2f1&Lan g=en

OHCHR. (2012, June 7). Considerations of reports submitted by States parties under article 19 or the Convention—Concluding observations of the Committtee against Torture, Albania. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CAT%2fC%2fALB%2fCO%2f2&Lang=en

OHCHR. (2016, August 26). Concluding observations on the second periodic report of Honduras*. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CAT%2fC%2fHND%2fCO%2f2&Lang=en

UNDP. (n.d.). Human Development Reports: Table 1. Human Development Index and its components. http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/HDI

UNHCR. (2018, May 24). Refworld | Report to the Albanian Government on the visit to Albania carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). https://www.refworld.org/docid/5b0681334.html

WMA. (2013). World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects. JAMA, 310(20), 2191. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2013.281053

Published
2020-11-09
How to Cite
Brasholt, M., van den Bergh, B., Bllaca, E., Mejía, A., Larsen, M. M., Levinsen, A. K., & Modvig, J. (2020). The risk of sanctions following visits by monitoring bodies; a study conducted in Albania and Honduras. Torture Journal, 30(2), 89-103. https://doi.org/10.7146/torture.v30i2.120079