- Published: 02.12.2021.
Reaction to the unilateral publication of the CPT Report
The Report was published more than one year after the ad hoc visit and after the fulfilment of a large number of recommendations. The arguments presented by the Ministry of the Interior had not been consideredRegarding the Report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published today and following the ad hoc visit to the Republic of Croatia conducted in August 2020, we would like to emphasise that the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia had not agreed to have the said Report published and the decision to publish it was made unilaterally by the Committee.
The Committee based its Report on unverifiable information from Bosnia and Herzegovina and clearly exceeded its power
The opposition of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia to the publication of the Report was motivated by the fact that it is significantly based on sources of information gathered in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the representatives of the Committee stayed for the first two days of their visit to the Republic of Croatia and in contact with the representatives of non‑governmental organisations and migrants whose objective is to illegally enter the territory of the Republic of Croatia at any cost with the intention to further migrate to the countries of Western Europe. It is expected that, when the Committee conducts examinations in one country, the information on the basis of which it drafts its report is gathered and examined in the same country. However, the Committee drafted its Report primarily on the basis of unverifiable information as well as subjective and biased sources from Bosnia and Herzegovina without concrete evidence of the allegations made at the expense of the Republic of Croatia.
An additional reason for which the Ministry of the Interior did not agree to publish the Report is the fact that, during their ad hoc visit to the Republic of Croatia in August 2020, the Committee exceeded its power focusing primarily on external border control instead of its actual mandate which is to prevent unacceptable treatment and punishment of prisoners. The purpose of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment and the work of the Committee is to provide support to States Parties in strengthening the protection of persons deprived of their liberty. This was clearly not in the focus of the ad hoc visit of the Committee in August 2020. We would like to recall that the announcement of the ad hoc visit of the Committee stated that the objective is “to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of foreign nationals deprived of their liberty under aliens legislation as well as the procedures applied to them in the context of their removal.”
It is not coincidental that, precisely during the stay of the Committee representatives, a larger group of migrants attempting to illegally cross the state border was detected in border areas between the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was prevented successfully. A similar attempt was registered in February 2021 when a group of Italian members of the European Parliament attempted to illegally cross the green border in the same area, which was also prevented successfully. It should be added that, when the representatives of the Committee visited the police stations of the Republic of Croatia along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, they focused on gathering the information on the actions of the border police, since they did not find persons deprived of their liberty. They tried to obtain this information in a completely inappropriate and even violent manner, thus violating procedures, exceeding the power of the Committee and showing disrespect to the Republic of Croatia as a sovereign country and a member of the Council of Europe. Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić, was also informed of the inappropriate behaviour of the Committee members during the ad hoc visit.
All substantiated remarks of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia had been submitted in late 2020, but were not considered nor published
The Ministry of the Interior submitted its remarks on the Preliminary and Final Report of the Committee in October and November 2020, arguing that the vast majority of the allegations were unfounded. In its remarks, the Ministry of the Interior informed the Committee that the majority of the recommendations cited in the Report had already been fulfilled and that the remaining, smaller part of the recommendations was in the final stage of being fulfilled. Unfortunately, the arguments of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia as well as the presented evidence and submitted documentation were not considered nor published by the Committee. Instead, it decided to unilaterally publish the Report of the ad hoc visit from August 2020, referring to Article 39(3) of the Rules of Procedure of the Committee despite detailed observations submitted on 24 November 2021 stating that the Republic of Croatia had not violated the provisions in question which, as well as previous remarks and arguments of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia, the Committee did not take into account.
Continuing cooperation and preparing for the periodic visit of the Committee in 2022
Nevertheless, the Ministry of the Interior remains committed to the constructive cooperation with the Committee. This is demonstrated by the acceptance of the ad hoc visit in August 2020, as well as the meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Mr Davor Božinović, and President of the CPT, Mr Alan Mitchell, held in Zagreb on 18 October 2021. On that occasion, it was proposed that, in the spirit of good cooperation, the focus should be on the good preparation of the periodic visit of the Committee scheduled for 2022 and on drafting the Report from that visit which would also take into account the arguments of the Ministry of the Interior. It was also proposed that a working group be established for the implementation of the recommendations identified during the periodic visit in 2022, which would regularly report to the Committee on the progress made.
In conclusion, we would like to emphasise that the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment stipulates inter alia that the information gathered by the Committee in relation to a visit, its report and its consultations with the Party concerned are confidential.
We would also like to note that the Republic of Croatia is not the only member opposing the publication of the Final Report, as this has already been done by Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, North Macedonia, Romania, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
The publication of the Report without the consent of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia after more than one year had passed from the ad hoc visit and after a large number of recommendations had already been fulfilled can hardly be motivated by improving the identified deficiencies in the field of protecting prisoners considering that, as it has already been stated, all the recommendations from that visit have for the most part been implemented.
 CPT Rules of Procedure, Titel III, Procedure Concerning Visits, Rule 27 (Priniciple of visits): Pursuant to Article Pursuant to Articles 1 and 7 of the Convention, the Committee shall organise visits to places referred to in Article 2 of the Convention to examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, with a view to strengthening, if necessary, the protection of such persons from torture and from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.