CPT: Police Ill-Treatment in Serbia Persists | Beta Briefing

CPT: Police Ill-Treatment in Serbia Persists

Source: Beta
News / Politics | 25.01.24 | access_time 13:38

Police officers at the primary school in Belgrade (BETAPHOTO/SASA DJORDJEVIC)

Criminal suspects in Serbia are still subject to police abuse, which is why the authorities should “adopt and implement a coherent strategy” for eradicating such behavior, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) wrote in its latest report, published on Jan. 25. The document also offers recommendations for overcoming said issues.

Recounting the results of an ad hoc visit to Serbia in March 2023, the CPT stated that its delegation received numerous complaints of criminal suspects having been physically abused at the hands of police officers, most notably in Belgrade. “The allegations consisted of punches, slaps, kicks and blows with truncheons as well as practices such as placing a plastic bag over the head of criminal suspects and administering electric shocks from a hand-held device” to coerce information or confessions from persons in custody, the CPT report claims.

The CPT concluded that the police treatment of detained persons, especially in the capital, has not improved since the Committee’s 2017 and 2021 visits and expressed its regret that the Serbian authorities’ efforts to supress abuse and implement prior guidance have so far been “fragmentary.” “The lack of action by the Serbian authorities to implement the CPT recommendations to eradicate ill-treatment by the police represents a failure to cooperate fully with the Committee. The Committee trusts concerted action will be taken to implement the recommendations contained in this report.”

The ad hoc 2023 delegation found that the necessary paradigm shift in interrogation approaches has not been made and that there is a “need to introduce systemic audio-video recording of all police interviews.” With regards to measures to prevent mistreatment, the CFT called on the Serbian authorities “to ensure the effective application of the right of access to a lawyer” from the moment an individual has been arrested.

In conclusion, the CFT “call[ed] upon the Serbian authorities to adopt and implement a coherent strategy to eradicate police ill-treatment which should include a message of zero-tolerance from the highest political level, mandatory training of police inspectors on investigative interviewing skills.”

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