The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) urged the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to “take vigorous action to address the problem of police ill treatment” in a report published on Tuesday.
The report is based on the CPT’s findings during a June 2019 visit to BiH and was published together with the response of BiH authorities. It describes “numerous allegations of physical and psychological ill treatment, whose severity, in the CPT’s view, could amount to torture (e.g., falaka, rape with a baton, mock execution with a gun) of detained persons by law enforcement officials” in Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Federation (FBiH) entity.
“The allegations of ill treatment against criminal suspects, consisted of kicks, punches, slaps and blows with batons, baseball bats, wooden tiles and electric cables, inflicted by crime inspectors and members of special intervention units with the intention of coercing them to confess,” a statement by the CoE said.
The report also noted that fewer allegations of police ill treatment were received than in 2012 and 2015 in the other semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska (RS).
The report called for “rigorous action to promote a change of culture in the Sarajevo and Herzegovina-Neretva Cantonal Police and FBiH Police.”
“This requires inter alia the adoption of measures such modern methods of crime investigation and a system of audio and video recording of police interviews as well as guaranteeing that medical examinations of criminal suspects in police custody are both thorough and confidential,” it said.
“Moreover, the report found that investigations into alleged police ill-treatment are not effective, as they are neither carried out promptly nor thoroughly and the investigating body cannot be considered as impartial and independent,” it added.