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Albania: High number of pre-trial detainees, access to healthcare matters of concern, UN torture prevention body says

23 April 2024

GENEVA (23 April 2023) – Albania must make additional efforts to combat overcrowding by reducing pre-trial detention, UN torture prevention experts said after their first visit to the country. They also stressed the need to ensure access to quality healthcare in detention.

“The high number of pre-trial detainees is concerning. Steps must be taken without delay to reduce the prison population in Albania, as a means of preventing cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” said Vasiliki Artinopoulou, head of the delegation.

“We welcome existing measures to address overcrowding, such as the Amnesty Law and the building of new prisons. However, new facilities will fill up quickly if the Government fails to tackle the root causes of overcrowding. The State party should accelerate criminal justice reforms while ensuring an effective implementation of alternatives to detention.”

The SPT visited Albania from 14 to 20 April and examined various places of deprivation of liberty, including prisons, penitentiaries, police stations and psychiatric institutions. During these unannounced visits, the delegation conducted confidential interviews with people deprived of their liberty, prison guards, police officers, and healthcare personnel. It conducted joint visits to detention facilities with the national preventive mechanism (NPM), the designated torture-prevention body in the country.

The Subcommittee also met with governmental authorities, including the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health and Social Protection, civil society and international organisations.

The SPT delegation further noticed detainees’ insufficient access to healthcare. “Not only is access to healthcare, including mental healthcare, difficult, but the quality of services is also worrying. This issue sometimes poses a threat to people’s lives, causing suffering that may amount to ill-treatment,” Artinopoulou remarked.

The SPT will share its report, which includes findings and recommendations, with Albania. The report will remain confidential until the State decides to make it public. Additionally, the Subcommittee will prepare a separate, confidential report for the NPM.

The SPT delegation consisted of Vasiliki Artinopoulou, head of the delegation (Greece), Suzanne Jabbour (Lebanon), Nika Kvaratskhelia (Georgia), and Zdenka Perović (Montenegro). It was accompanied by two human rights officers from the SPT Secretariat.

For media inquiries or more information, please contact

Gaetan Philippe Beauliere at [email protected], and Daniel Alexander Fyfe at [email protected], human rights officers for the SPT, Vivian Kwok at [email protected], media officer.


To date, the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture has been ratified by 93 states. States are under the obligation to allow the SPT unannounced and unhindered visits to all places where persons are deprived of their liberty. States Parties should also establish a national preventive mechanism, which should conduct regular visits to places throughout the country where people are deprived of liberty.

The mandate of the SPT is to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons deprived of their liberty, through visits and recommendations to States parties to the Optional Protocol. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to States by means of a confidential report and, where necessary, to national preventive mechanisms. However, States parties are encouraged to request that the SPT publish the reports.

The SPT is composed of 25 independent and impartial members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States Parties.

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