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Reports

In August 2019, the National Preventive Mechanism, as part of its regular, planned activities, visited the Velika Plana Police Station, part of the Smederevo Police Administration. The visit was unannounced, and within it the NPM team visited two detention facilities, interviewed police officers and gained insight into individual detention cases and cases of use of coercive means. All police officers cooperated fully with the NPM by providing all the information requested, and by enabling the team to access and photograph the documentation, as well as to tour and photograph the premises. Based on the visits and the facts established, the NPM submitted a Report with recommendations to the supervised authority.

In accordance with the recommendations of the NPM, measures are being taken at the Velika Plana Police Station to ensure that surveillance videos are kept for a period of not less than 30 days, as well as to improve the accommodation capacities of the detention facilities. The response of the authorities also stated that a letter was sent to organizational units of the Police Administration of Smederevo saying that they should start using a special room for the purpose of identifying and hearing persons, if they have one. Bearing in mind that the NPM recommended the correct calculation of the beginning of detention under the Criminal Procedure Code, the heads of organizational units of the Police Administration of Smederevo were ordered to carry out controls of cases of detained persons in this regard.

The National Preventive Mechanism of the Protector of Citizens sent the Report with recommendations to the controlled authorities, following the control visit to the Jagodina Police Administration, which included visits to the headquarters of the Jagodina Police Administration and the Ćuprija Police Station, as well as visits to the Penal-Correctional Facility in Ćuprija, which were conducted in April 2019.

Acting on the recommendations of the NPM, the Jagodina Police Administration took the necessary measures in order to keep the surveillance videos for at least 30 days and provided a special room for the interrogation of persons, and the necessary measures were taken to equip this room with technical equipment for audio and video recording. Also, this administration informed the NPM that it will have its technical equipment set up for audio and video recording in the interrogation room in the Ćuprija Police Station.

Also, based on the visits performed by the representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the NPM received information that the detention facilities at the Paraćin, Ćuprija and Despotovac police stations will be renovated in the coming period.
At the Penal-Correctional Facility in Ćuprija, doctors have started acting in accordance with the recommendations of the NPM regarding medical examinations, meaning that in the future the first examination of detainees will include an examination of all body parts, that is, a patient will be examined without clothes. Also, during the first medical examination, the doctor will enter in the medical record all the information he/she has obtained, will photograph all injuries observed on the detained person during the first medical examination, and photographs of the injuries will be stored in the medical record of the person. The Penal-Correctional Facility in Ćuprija also installed a PVC curtain at the sanitary block, ensuring the privacy of detainees, while in the room intended for detention, sufficient supply of natural light was provided in such a way that the security of the institution was not endangered. In the room intended for detention, sanitary facilities have been renovated and clean bed sheets and personal hygiene products for detainees were provided.

In its Report on the visit to the Shelter for foreigners, the NPM states that the preparation of the translation of the reasons for placement in the Shelter into several languages has begun, which will be served to foreigners either with the decision on accommodation or during accommodation. The house rules have already been translated into several languages and are handed over to persons upon their placement at the Shelter, and the NPM recommendation was adopted that families with children, should they find themselves in such a place, since a case like that was not recorded in years, should not be separated in the future. The report also states that one of the two wings intended for housing foreigners in the Shelter has been renovated and is being used, while works on the other wing are in progress.

At the same time, the NPM indicates in its report that there are still deficiencies in terms of health care, which it had been pointing out for a long time, and problems with access to lawyers have also been identified. Concerning the hiring of translators, the competent authorities announced that they will seek funding for this purpose in 2020.

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In its replies to the NPM Report on the compulsory removal of Chinese nationals and the sent recommendations, the most important being the provision of translators, the Ministry of the Interior said that it did not have a uniform practice at the moment, but that the problem was being solved from situation to situation, and that for the year 2020, they sought the necessary funds for this purpose. 

Acting on the recommendation of the NPM to provide 24-hour presence of the medical staff at the Penal-Correctional Facility in Niš, the Administration for the Enforcement of Penal Sanctions informed the NPM that it had requested the consent of the RS Government Commission for additional involvement of medical personnel. Also, the development of winter uniforms for members of the Security Service is underway.

With the aim of improving the existing material conditions for persons deprived of their liberty, the Institution continued with the replacement of the remaining old mattresses with new ones, and by the end of the year, all premises where the persons deprived of their liberty are staying will be painted. In order to enable time orientation in the premises in which these persons reside, the Institution provided clocks for facilities for the detention of persons according to the Criminal Procedure Code. As for the recommendation related to providing the 4 square meters of living space for persons deprived of their liberty, the Institution stated in its statement that it is currently unable to act on that recommendation, since the number of accommodated persons exceeds the accommodation capacities of the Institution, but also because the architectural structures of certain facilities do not provide the opportunity to restructure the premises.

On 8 May 2019, the Protector of Citizens, under the mandate of the NPM, made a fourth visit to the Penal-Correctional Facility in Niš, in order to monitor the implementation of recommendations made earlier. Following the visit, a report was drafted with new recommendations for improving the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.

After two visits of the National Preventive Mechanism to the Penal-Correctional Facility in Sremska Mitrovica and after submitting the report and recommendations to the competent authorities, the Administration for the Enforcement of Penal Sanctions informed the NPM in its response that it had drafted instructions or protocols with standard operating procedures related to the functioning of health services in the institutions, that include the report forms on the application of coercive measures and a body chart for recording injuries, as their integral part. The instructions shall be distributed to all institutes as soon as possible.

The NPM expects that the introduction of these forms will solve the long-standing problem of inadequate reports drawn up by health care services in institutions when implementing coercive measures.

The Penal-Correctional Facility in Sremska Mitrovica will also employ 24 new members of the Security Service, which will, to some extent, alleviate the chronic shortage of members of that Service. This shortcoming was also noted in the previous report, which stated that there were only two commanders in every shift per 125 persons deprived of their liberty in the admissions department.

In its report on the visits to the Penal-Correctional Facility in Sremska Mitrovica, conducted in February and April of 2019, the NPM stated that during its first, unannounced visit, team members checked the use of video surveillance, enforcement of coercive measures and conditions in the admissions department, since during the previous visits, certain problems were recorded regarding these issues. The second visit was announced and focused solely on checking whether the persons who spoke to the NPM representatives during the first visit suffered some consequences and it was determined that they did not.

The cooperation of the management and the employees of the Penal-Correctional Facility in Sremska Mitrovica during both visits was good and the representatives of the NPM team were allowed to fully exercise their competence.
During the first visit, the NPM also visited the animal shelter, since a unique project called „Accept for a new life“ is being implemented at the Penal-Correctional Facility in Sremska Mitrovica. This penal-correctional facility is one of three in Europe to carry out a program of re-socialization of convicts with the help of dogs, and is the only one to have a shelter for stray dogs.

The reports of the Security Service on the enforcement of coercive measures and the internal procedure for accessing and isolating video surveillance footage were assessed by the NPM in its report as examples of good practice. However, it was also found that the measures taken after the 2017 visit did not sufficiently and systematically contribute to a lasting solution to the problem of overcrowding in the admissions department.