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Albania
28.05.02
Urgent Interventions

Albania: Albanian prisoners have launched a hunger strike in protest of detention conditions in Rresheni Police Station

Case ALB 280502
Ill-treatment / Hunger Strikes

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Albania.

Brief description of the situation


The International Secretariat of OMCT has received information from the Greek Helsinki Monitor, a member of the OMCT network, and the Albanian Human Rights Group concerning a group of Albanian prisoners who have launched a hunger strike in protest of the poor conditions in which they are being detained in the Rresheni Police Station in Albania.

According to the information received, since Albanian prisons are overcrowded, detainees are being forced to carry out their sentences in pre-trial detention rooms in police stations, rather than prisons or correction facilities. This is a violation of their rights, particularly since, having been sentenced to prison terms the detainees are entitled to a certain standard of detention conditions, which these facilities do not meet, and the fact being held in pre-trial detention facilities can also reportedly lead to complications concerning the calculation of the proportion of their sentences that the detainees have served while in these facilities.

According to the report, at the persons who have been engaged in hunger strikes for approximately two weeks at Rresheni Police Station include:

· 31-year old Dritan Nikoll Lusha, arrested 23.03.2000, sentenced 04.02.2002
· 31-year old Artan Gjon Beleshi, arrested 23.03.2000, sentenced on 04.02.2002
· 48-year old Ndue Gjok Kola, arrested 23.01.2001, sentenced on 04.02.2002
· 18-year old Gjovalin Mark Kola, arrested 08.05.2000, sentenced on 05.07.2001
· 27-year old Gjovalin Ded Kadeli, arrested 21.08.2001, sentenced on 06.02.2002
· 49-year old Preng Pjeter Gjiku, arrested 30.09.2000, sentenced on 19.09.2001
· 27-year old Petrit Gjon Përleku, arrested 08.07.2000, sentenced on 05.04.2002
· 23-year old Arben Ndue Përleku, arrested 08.07.2000, sentenced on 05.04.2002
· 31-year old Arben Preng Ceku, arrested 24.06.2000, sentenced on 24.10.2001
· 37-year old Bardhok Bib Kola, arrested 12.04.2000, sentenced on 24.01.2001
· 27-year old Vasil Ndue Buna, arrested 27.11.2001, sentenced on 31.01.2002
· 22-year old Arjan Preng Përleku, arrested 13.07.2000, sentenced on 05.04.2002
· 26-year old Pjetër Ndu Shurbi, arrested 19.03.2002, sentenced on 03.04.2002

The hunger strikes are reportedly being held in order to protest against poor detention conditions in the station, and the indifference of the General Director of Prisons towards this situation.

According to report, due to the lack of space in the Police Station in Rreshen, 32 convicts and detainees are being held in 6 pre-trial detention rooms that should normally hold 18, the overcrowded areas are therefore becoming a health risk. Doctors that have examined the prisoners that are engaged in hunger strikes, report that they are starting to show symptoms of hypertension and general exhaustion, and that two of their number are reportedly undergoing “serum treatment” due too gravely deteriorating health conditions. Reports indicate that the officers present at the police station were also concerned by the issue of over-crowding, but could not provide a solution themselves. It is also worth noting that hunger strikes have also previously been held at the Pogradec, Berat and Skrapar Police Stations for similar reasons.

Furthermore, reports indicate that some 300 detainees served their sentences in police stations in 2001. Of grave concern is the fact that it appears that the General Directory of Prisons is not addressing these issues with measures that are likely to bring about an improvement in the situation.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned about the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned detainees since they are currently engaged in a hunger strike, and more generally, of all other detainees in Albania that are being held in poor conditions in pre-trial detention centres. The OMCT is gravely concerned of the Albanian authorities indifferent attitude of the growing problem in Albanian prisons.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Albania urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned detainees;
ii. intervene with the appropriate authorities in order to secure that they are provided with the adequate medical assistance as a matter of urgency, and that, more generally, measures are taken to halt the use of pre-trial detention facilities for detainees serving prison sentences;
iii. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

· President Rexhep Meidani, e-mail: presec@presec.tirana.al
· Ambassador Ksenofon Krisafi, Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva of the Republic of Albania, Fax: 0041 22 738 81 56, e-mail: mission.albania@ties.itu.int.

Please also write to the embassies of Albania in your respective country.

Geneva, May 28th, 2002

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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