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Visits

On 24 April, the team of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) visited both penitentiary-correctional institutions situated in Padinska Skela, Belgrade: a closed type institution with special security - the Penitentiary-Correctional in Belgrade and an open type institution - the Penitentiary-Correctional in Belgrade - Padinska Skela. The visit was carried out to examine how the institutions implement measures to contain coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and how the exercise of fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty is ensured in these circumstances.

The management and the staff fully cooperated during the visit. The NPM team was provided with all requested information and unsupervised interviews with persons deprived of liberty were enabled. The persons with whom unsupervised interviews were conducted had no objections regarding the prison staff’s conduct.

NPM team noted that all measures were followed to protect the health and safety of all persons deprived of liberty, which would in turn contribute to preserving the health and safety of the prison staff. The Institution was regularly supplied with protective equipment, the delivery of masks, gloves and disinfectants has been continuous. Intensified health monitoring measures were applied to persons at special risk of infection. There were more opportunities for persons deprived of liberty to use telephone and stay in fresh air.

On the same day, the NPM team also visited the Shelter for Foreigners in Padinska Skela. There were 9 persons in the Shelter. The conditions in the Shelter were satisfactory. All persons were provided with communication via telephone, stay in fresh air and for persons who needed health care, it was provided as well. The persons with whom unsupervised interview was conducted had no objections regarding the Shelter staff’s conduct.

Today, NPM representatives visited the District Prison in Belgrade to investigate how the management of the institution implements measures to contain coronavirus (COVID-19) and how the exercise of fundamental rights of persons deprived of liberty is ensured in these circumstances.

The visit was conducted with the full cooperation of the management and staff of the institution, all requested information was provided and unsupervised interviews with persons deprived of liberty were enabled. NPM representatives were assured that all measures were observed to protect the health and safety of all persons deprived of liberty, which would in turn contribute to preserving the health and safety of the staff.

The contact with the outside world of persons deprived of liberty was restricted, and they fully understood these restrictions.

The persons with whom unsupervised interview was conducted had no objections regarding the police officers’ conduct.

We reiterate that the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is absolute and that protective measures taken by the state to contain COVID-19 must never result in any form of ill-treatment of persons deprived of liberty.

On Wednesday 11 March 2020, a National Preventive Mechanism representative monitored two forced removals of foreign citizens from the territory of the Republic of Serbia. The citizen of Afghanistan was escorted from the Shelter for Foreigners to Nikola Tesla Airport in order to return to his home country by plane, whereas a citizen of Croatia, also from the Shelter, was escorted to Batrovci border crossing and handed over to Croatian authorities.

The monitoring was conducted with the full cooperation of the Shelter staff.

Yesterday, the Deputy Protector of Citizens Ms. Nataša Tanjević PhD. and her associate from the NPM team visited Padinska Skela Shelter for Foreigners where they monitored a forced removal of a family with two minors, citizens of Iran and two citizens of Afghanistan.

Facilitated by a Farsi interpreter, unsupervised interviews were conducted with foreigners, and since a family with two children was in the process of forced removal, special attention was paid to the conditions in the shelter and the treatment of children during their stay there, as well as to the process of placement in an official vehicle. The NPM concluded that the Iranian family was provided with accommodation in the shelter separately from others awaiting forced removal, thus providing them with the necessary privacy, in accordance with the Law, and that minor children with their mother were in a separate passenger official vehicle during the transportation to the border crossing.

NPM team members examined the relevant documentation and interviewed the staff regarding the respect of the rights of persons in the process of forced removal. The NPM monitored their placement in an official vehicle which then transported them to Gradina border crossing.

The foreigners interviewed stated that they had no objections regarding the conditions in the Shelter or the police officers’ conduct.

During the visit, all police officers fully cooperated with the NPM by providing the requested information and enabling unsupervised interviews with foreigners.

Deputy Protector of Citizens Ms. Nataša Tanjević PhD. and representatives of the National Preventive Mechanism paid a regular visit to the Pančevo Penitentiary-Correctional Institution on 27 and 28 February in accordance with the visit plan for 2020. In addition to the NPM representatives, the visiting team also included representatives of the Provincial Ombudsman, YUKOM representatives and a forensic specialist- a representative of the IAN.

During the visit, a comprehensive monitoring of the situation in the Institution was conducted in terms of respecting the rights of persons deprived of their liberty, with the full cooperation of the management and staff in the penitentiary facility. The NPM team was provided with all the requested information; unsupervised interviews with a large number of persons deprived of liberty were enabled, as well as a tour of the premises and insight into the complete documentation. The professional conduct of the management and employees in the Institution during the NPM’s visit was an example of good practice in acting upon legally enshrined bodies’ obligation to cooperate with the NPM.

The NPM will prepare a report on the visit, which will be submitted to the Institution and other relevant authorities.