Friday, 27 March 2020

Bošnjaković Calls on Split Prisoners to End Strike

ZAGREB, March 27, 2020 - Prisoners in Split's Bilice prison have started a strike, refusing to eat prison food out of fear that COVID-19 could enter the prison, and Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković called on them on Thursday to end the strike.

"Someone has told them that detainees under investigation are innocent under the Constitution and should be released," Bošnjaković said. He explained that they are innocent until proven guilty, but under the law "they have to be isolated during the investigation."

He said that care was being taken within the system to maintain hygiene and to reduce risks, adding that not one carrier of the disease had been identified in the entire prison system but that some officers were in self-isolation, which is not critical.

Bošnjaković said that there was a significant drop in the number of people being sent to prison. The recommendation is that those cases who are a danger to society should be sent to prison while misdemeanour cases will be dealt with after the crisis ends, he said.

Bošnjaković added that the courts are only handling urgent cases because of the coronavirus crisis, while other cases are being deferred.

"The primary message is that the courts are functioning. The thing that needs to be said is that they are handling urgent cases like protecting the rights of minors, violent crimes and determining prison sentences," he told reporters.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 17 February 2020

HDLU Launches New Art Project in Prisons

ZAGREB, February 17, 2020 - After successfully implementing the projects "Exemplary Penitentiary" at the Požega Penitentiary and "Art Revitalisation of the Prison Space" at the Zagreb Prison, the Croatian Association of Artists (HDLU) has announced the start of the project "The Horizon of Freedom" at the Glina Penitentiary and the Zagreb Prison Hospital.

At the Glina Penitentiary the prisoners and artists will paint a joint mural, and there will also be art workshops for prisoners. Two art interventions are planned for the Zagreb Prison Hospital as well.

Previous projects have shown that art has a truly transformative power. It contributes to creating a new, more humane, supporting and nurturing environment, it creates conditions for developing awareness, responsibility and empathy in prisoners, and it helps them to develop skills and live a more meaningful and productive life, the HDLU reports.

The project "The Horizon of Freedom" has a similar aim - to continue with the artistic and therapeutic practice of intervention within the Croatian prison system, with emphasis on the aestheticization of the prisoners' living space and the work space of prison officers, as well as on involving prisoners in the creative process and discussions about art, changes in space and in the individual inhabiting that space.

The project "The Horizon of Freedom" by Melinda Šefčić was selected through a public tender by the Ministry of Justice and will be financed with 200,000 kuna. The accompanying research will be done by Anita Jandrić Nišević and Melinda Šefčić.

More art news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 31 January 2020

MPs Warn About Prison Overcrowding

ZAGREB, January 31, 2020 - During a parliamentary debate on the report on the work of prisons in 2018 on Thursday, members of parliament warned about prison overcrowding and poor prison conditions as well as poor working conditions of judicial police.

In the period covered by the report, 11,352 persons were imprisoned and the total prison capacity was 3,900 places. Of the total number of persons arrested in 2018, 4,119 were serving their terms, a drop of one percent from 2017, said the State Secretary at the Justice Ministry, Juro Martinović.

The report also shows a significant increase in the number of foreign nationals in the prison system of close to 73% compared to 2017.

"That is mostly due to the migrant crisis," said Martinović.

Vesna Pusić of the opposition GLAS party said that the figures in the report indicated overcrowding, notably in investigative custody facilities, with three prisoners sharing one place, she said.

Ante Babić of the ruling HDZ party wanted to know if it was true, as stated by the Ombudswoman, that some prisoners do not have access to health care services while illiterate prisoners cannot exercise the right to legal protection because they cannot write their requests.

"Individual omissions are possible but... as far as health care is concerned, I state responsibly that inmates undergo more medical check-ups than some groups that are outside the prison system," said Martinovic.

Stjepan Curaj of the HNS party said that electronic bracelets could help reduce prison overcrowding, and he proposed interviewing prison personnel and inmates on prison conditions.

MPs also warned about job vacancies in the prison system, with slightly more than 2,600 persons employed in 2018 and a total of 3,558 jobs available.

More news about prisons in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Report on State of Prisons and Correctional System Presented

ZAGREB, January 3, 2020 - The government on Friday adopted a report on the state and functioning of prisons and the correctional system in 2018.

Croatia has 14 prisons, seven correctional facilities and two juvenile correctional facilities with a total capacity of 3,900 prisoners. Over 11,000 prisoners passed through the prison system in 2018, Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said while presenting the report.

A total of 4,119 prisoners were serving prison terms, over 4,000 were held in investigative custody, while the others were held in connection with minor offences.

"It is important to note that these 11,000 prisoners were subjected to only 56 coercive measures. That means that the conditions in our prisons are not such as would require the use of physical force, but that the system is well organised and functioning," Bošnjaković said.

He said that 18 inmates had died in prison in 2018 for various reasons, such as heart attack, and there was medical documentation for each case. "We are trying to give the best service we can, and if that is not enough, we refer them to other hospitals," the minister added.

The report shows that prisoners were mostly serving time for crimes against life and limb (36.59%), crimes against property (32.98%), crimes against values protected by international law (9.79%), crimes against sexual freedom and sexual morality (7.73%), crimes against security of payment and business transactions (2.92%) and crimes against public security of people and property (2.74%).

It also shows that the number of attempted prison escapes fell to five from six in 2017.

More news about the justice system in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 1 November 2019

ECHR Rules in Favour of Croat Who Complained about Conditions in Zagreb Jail

ZAGREB, November 1, 2019 - The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday stated in its judgment in the case of Dušan Ulemek versus Croatia that inadequate conditions in the Zagreb jail reached the level of "degrading treatment".

The court says in a press release that Ulemek, a Croatian national, who was given a prison sentence of 18 months for aiding and abetting robbery, complained in his application about the conditions of his detention in two prisons and of a lack of effective domestic remedies.

The applicant spent 27 days in Zagreb Prison in 2011 and the rest of his sentence in the Glina jail before being released on parole in September 2012.

He complained about the conditions of his detention in Glina Prison while still incarcerated.

Among other things, he alleged overcrowding, a lack of facilities, the poor organisation of activities, that he had been harassed by other prisoners, and that he had been kept isolated. His complaints were dismissed by the prison’s governor, a sentence-execution judge and the appeal court.

"On his release he began proceedings for compensation for the allegedly inadequate conditions of his detention in both prisons. His claim was rejected at first instance, on appeal and by the Constitutional Court," reads the press release.

"Relying in particular on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, the applicant complained about the conditions of his detention in both prisons."

The Strasbourg-court ruled that there was violation of Article 3 (degrading treatment) – concerning the conditions of Mr Ulemek’s detention in Zagreb Prison.

It ruled that there was "no violation of Article 3 – concerning the conditions of Mr Ulemek’s detention in Glina State Prison"

Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights is about prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment.

The applicant is entitled to an award of just satisfaction: 1,000 euros (non-pecuniary damage) and 2,890 euros (costs and expenses).

The ruling is not final, and both sides can appeal against it before the Grand Chamber.

Ulemek's lawyer Lidija Horvat told Hina on Thursday that the ruling was of great importance for rights of incarcerated persons.

More human rights news can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Croatia Joins "Not My Crime - Still My Sentence" Campaign

ZAGREB, June 11, 2019 - Children's ombudswoman Helenca Pirnat Dragičević called for providing support to children whose parents are behind the bars, and this appeal was issued on Tuesday on the occasion of the European campaign called "Not My Crime - Still My Sentence."

The campaign is aimed at improving living conditions and status of children of incarcerated parents.

The Croatian office says that since 2006 it has been engaged in the protection of the rights of this vulnerable category of children, and notes some progress in their status in the country. Approximately one-third of incarcerated people in Croatia are parents of underage children.

On 31 December 2018, of the 2,211 persons behind the bars in Croatia, 743 were parents of a total of 1,325 underage children. Throughout that year, about 12,500 children were separated from their imprisoned parent.

"An estimated 2.1 million children are separated from a parent in prison in Council of Europe countries on any given day; 800,000 children in the EU-28. In addition to having to cope with separation from their parent, these children are vulnerable to stigma, instability, poverty and violence. Although overall progress on the issue of parental imprisonment has been made in Europe, thanks partially to EU support for advocacy on their behalf, some countries still have little awareness of this, levels of service provision vary greatly and policy is lagging," says COPE, the only pan-European network for children with imprisoned parents.

"Founded in 2000, Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) is a pan-European network working with and on behalf of children with imprisoned parents. The network encourages innovative perspectives and practice to ensure that the rights of children with imprisoned parents are fully respected and that action is taken to secure their well-being and healthy development. COPE is a membership-based organisation made up of non-governmental organisations, individuals and other stakeholders across Europe and beyond, linked by a staff team based at its Paris headquarters."

More children news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Croatian Prison Population on Decline, CoE Report Says

 ZAGREB, December 4, 2018 - The prison population across Europe is unchanged, while the Croatian prison population is decreasing, according to the report "Prisons in Europe 2005-2015", which was published by the Council of Europe on Tuesday.

Figures are very high in England, Wales, Scotland, Spain and Portugal whereas Croatia, Greece, Slovenia and Turkey have low rates. In the 2005 and 2015 period, the number of prisoners rose the most in Albania, Georgia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey. On the other hand, the lowest growth rates were registered in Germany and the Netherlands, while Estonia and Latvia registered the highest rates of a decrease in prison population in Europe.

The report notes that when compared to other European countries, in 2014/15 Croatia had a low prison population rate.

"Low: prison population rate, average length of imprisonment based on stock and flow, prison density, rate of suicides per 10,000 inmates, percentage of suicides in pre-trial detention, ratio of inmates per staff, average amount spent per day for the detention of one inmate," reads the report.

From 2005 to 2015, the prison population rate of Croatia (stock) increased by 2%. In 2005, the country had 79 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants, while in 2015 it had 80.

"Medium: rate of entries into penal institutions, average length of imprisonment based on the total number of days spent in penal institutions, percentage of non-sentenced inmates, percentage of custodial staff in the total staff.

From 2005 to 2014, the rate of entries (flow of entries) decreased by 28%. In 2005, there were 301 entries into penal institutions per 100,000 inhabitants, while in 2014 there were 216, according to the report.

"High: rate of releases from penal institutions, median age of the prison population, percentage of foreigners in pre-trial detention, rate of deaths per 10,000 inmates."

The report reads that from 2009 to 2014, the rate of releases (flow of releases) decreased by 23%. In 2009, there were 278 releases from penal institutions per 100,000 inhabitants, while in 2014 there were 214.

"When the percentage of female and the percentage of foreign inmates are calculated, the Croatian percentages are medium compared to the member States of the Council of Europe, but low compared to the member States of the European Union."

For more on prisons in Croatia, click here.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Council of Europe Mostly Praises Croatia's Prison

ZAGREB, October 3, 2018 - The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has praised the efforts of the Croatian authorities to reduce prison overcrowding.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Art Is the New Black in Požega Prison

Artwork improves lives of inmates of women’s prison in Požega.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Exhibition on “Goli Otok” Prison Camp Opening in Šibenik

Goli Otok is an island where political prisoners were held.

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