CE committee concerned about some aspects of Czech prisons
By ČTK / Published 16 July 2007
Paris, July 13 (CTK) - The Council of Europe's (CE) committee against torture is concerned about some practices in Czech prisons such as a special regime for life prisoners and the conditions of castration of some sexual offenders, it says in a report it disclosed today.
The committee worked out the report on the basis of its members' two visits to the Czech Republic last year. It has disclosed it in Strasbourg at the Czech government's request, along with the government's own report reacting to the CE's.
The CE report says that the CE delegation gained no information about a possible mistreatment of people in Czech custody, but it heard many complaints about the police using force excessively while arresting and questioning people.
The committee recommends that high-ranking police officers remind their subordinates that such a conduct is inadmissible and at variance with law.
The Czech government, in its comments says that the Czech Police Presidium has already prepared new and far stricter directives in this respect.
The CE report describes the material conditions in custody prisons as quite satisfactory, but it criticises shortcomings in the application of the detainees' right to a quick contact with their lawyers. They are often enabled this only after a long time, the report writes.
The committee says the authorities must put the thing right and secure the possibility for the detained person to talk to his/her relatives and to have access to medical care.
The current system of informing detainees about their rights is neither effective nor sufficient, the committee writes.
The Czech government reacted saying the law has been respected in these points. The new Czech directives are fully in harmony with the CE committee's recommendations, it said.
The committee expresses concern about Czech prisons being overcrowded and asks Czech authorities to tell how they want to improve the situation.
In reaction to this the Czech government asserted that new Czech legislation has improved conditions for convicts since 2003.
The committee appreciated the fact that the use of netted beds in mental hospitals in Brno and in Dobrany, west Bohemia, has been reduced.
Nevertheless, it voiced concern about the special regime for life prisoners in Mirov, north Moravia, and Valdice, east Bohemia, and about the castration of some offenders.
Surgical castration can be carried out only with the free consent of the person involved. This, however, is hardly possible in a situation where he is asked to choose between castration and life stay in a mental hospital, the report points out.
The committee has great doubts about prisoners being subjected to surgical castration.
Commenting on this point the Czech government only wrote that castrations have been carried out under a law from 1966, which is to be re-discussed this year. A thorough amendment to the law can be expected, the government said.
The committee's report also says the regime of life convicts should be re-examined. The authorities should seek their better integration into the prison life and the extension of their programme to include activities outside their cells.
The authorities should do away with the systematic handcuffing of life convicts any time they are led out of their cells, the committee writes.
It praises the fact that these prison inmates can work now, unlike during the committee's previous visit to the Czech Republic in 2002.
The Czech government said the authorities are striving for life convicts having a chance to spend their lives meaningfully. However, further extension of such chances must be considered along with security aspects, Prague says.
This applies to the handcuffing as well, it continues, adding that no life convict in either of the two prisons involved, Mirov and Valdice, is handcuffed this way now.
The CE report also includes a number of recommendations and a request for the Czech authorities to report on how they have applied the recommendations in six months.
This story is from the Czech News Agency (ČTK).