Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee visits Spain.

A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has just completed a one-week visit to Spain.

The visit, which began on 12 December 2005, was carried out by three members of the CPT: Silvia Casale, a British criminologist (President of the CPT and Head of delegation), Marija Definis Gojanovic, a Croatian forensic doctor, and Mauro Palma, an Italian prison expert. They were assisted by Mark Kelly, an Irish human rights consultant and supported by Caterina Bolognese, of the CPTís Secretariat.

The delegation visited Melilla, in particular to examine procedures for the interception and treatment of foreign nationals by the Civil Guard at Spainís border with Morocco. In this connection, it accompanied the night patrols of the border fence, while also monitoring procedures from the control centre of the Civil Guard.

The delegation also examined the situation of persons deprived of their liberty by law enforcement agencies, focussing particularly on access to a lawyer as a fundamental safeguard for the prevention of ill-treatment. For this purpose, the delegation visited law enforcement establishments in Madrid, Almería province and Melilla. It also conducted interviews at Madrid V (Soto del Real) and Almería (El Acebuche) Prisons, with persons who had recently been in the custody of law enforcement agencies.

Further, the delegation held discussions with judges and consulted judicial files in order to examine the role of the judiciary in protecting persons in the custody of law enforcement agencies.

During the visit, the delegation held meetings with the Minister for the Interior, José Antonio Alonso Suárez, the Secretary of State for Security, Antonio Camacho Vizcaíno, the Director-General of the Civil Guard, Carlos Gómez Arruche, the Director-General of Penitentiary Institutions, Mercedes Gallizo Llamas, and other senior officials of the Ministry of the Interior, as well as the Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Miguel Angel Aznar Nieto.

The CPTís delegation met with the Audiencia Nacionalís President, Carlos Divar Blanco, the President of its Criminal Chamber, Javier Gómez Bermúdez, and its Chief Prosecutor, Eduardo Fungairiño Bringas. It also met the Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo), Enrique Múgica Herzog, and his first deputy, Maria Luisa Cava de Llano Y Carrió.

[Source: Council of Europe, CPT, 21Dec05]

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