Concerns raised over human rights in prison

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Campaigners have called for an urgent government response to a new report detailing serious concerns about practices in prisons and police custody

11th October 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The Scottish Government must take urgent action to tackle human rights concerns in the country’s prisons and police custody.

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has joined calls for an urgent government response to a new report detailing serious concerns about practices in Scotland’s prisons and police custody facilities.

The report from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) follows a visit to several places of detention in Scotland in October 2018. 

The commission is a member of the UK’s National Preventative Mechanism (NPM), a network of 21 independent monitoring bodies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland whose role is to prevent ill-treatment in detention.

The NPM has welcomed the CPT report and asked the Scottish Government to take urgent action to create improvements for people in prisons and police custody in Scotland. Specific areas of concern include inadequate treatment for women with mental health issues, severe over-crowding in prisons and excessive use of force in police custody.

Judith Robertson, chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said: “People who are detained in police custody or prison are often in a vulnerable situation. Like everyone, they have an absolute right to be free from cruel or degrading treatment, and to be safe from physical and mental harm. These rights are protected in Scotland’s domestic human rights laws and the broader international human rights obligations that we are signed up to as a country.

“Scotland is a country that aspires to provide safe and humane conditions when people are in detention. The CPT report provides important scrutiny of the reality of people’s experiences and throws a clear spotlight on some very worrying conditions and practices. Previous concerns expressed by other inspection and monitoring bodies have not yet been addressed. We therefore hope to see urgent action now taken by the Scottish Government to protect and uphold the rights of everyone in Scotland’s places of detention.”

The Scottish Government said it would consider the findings of the report. A spokesman said: “We want to ensure Scotland is a modern, inclusive nation that protects, respects and realises internationally recognised human rights. We actively engage with international human rights monitoring mechanisms and value the expert insight they provide on human rights issues.”