November 15, 2021

Report from consecutive visits on the situation and conditions in the penitentiary-correctional institutions in the Republic of North Macedonia in July 2021

This report was prepared within the framework of the project “Eliminaton of Torture and Inhuman Treatment in Prisons and Deteniton Facilities”, funded by the European Union. For the purposes of the project, a Memorandum of Cooperaton was signed between the Macedonian Young Lawyers Associaton, the Helsinki Commitee for Human Rights and the Administraton for Execution of Sanctions. The report is based on field visits by the representative of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights – Ina Dzugumanova, representatives of the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association – Arben Gudachi and Irena Zdravkova, as well as external experts hired by the monitoring team, psychiatrist – Marija Kostadinovska and psychotherapist – Elisaveta Sekulovska. The experts were hired to assess the potential impact of material condidions in prisons and detention facilities on persons staying in these facilities. The assessment was conducted by providing psychiatric and psychotherapeutic counseling to convicts and talking to professional services in penitentiary institutions, primarily health and social workers. The field visits were conducted during the month of July 2021, as consecutive visits to the regular ones that the monitoring team conducted in the period from August to October 2020. The subsequent field visits were conducted in 4 penitentiary correctional institutions in which the largest number of deficiencies 4 were noticed during the regular visits, namely in PCI Idrizovo, PCI Shtip, PCI Kumanovo and PCI Tetovo. Although during the subsequent visits the monitoring team noticed an improvement in the penitentiary institutions, mostly in terms of improving the material conditions, the penitentiary system still faces major problems and challenges. The most pressing problems remain – the access to health care, the educational process and the process of re-socialization of the convicts, the untrained management and professional staff in the penitentiary institutions and the inefficient internal and external mechanisms for reporting and prosecuting cases of torture and inhuman treatment of convicts. In this regard, the report contains a summary of the conducted field monitoring, focusing on the progress and the main challenges documented during the visits. The report also contains recommendations for each penitentiary institution, as well as general recommendations for the competent institutions in order to improve the circumstances and conditions in the penitentiary and correctional institutions.