CPT: Malta Detention Centres Still Inhuman

(Brussels, 22 February 2010) -- The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) describes Malta's detention centres as amounting to "inhuman and degrading treatment".

On 17 February the CPT published a report on its visit to Malta from 19-26 May 2008.  According to the CPT, detention conditions in Malta have not improved since their last visit.  

In "Hermes Block", a part of Lyster Barracks Detention Centre, the Committee found conditions to be in a "dilapidated state", describing it as being "dirty and infested with rats". "Toilets and showers are in such a poor state of repair that it is practically impossible to ensure basic standards of hygiene", says the Committee.

The CPT has asked the Maltese authorities to shut down Hermes Block "as a matter of urgency", until it is refurbished.

Elsewhere, the CPT noted that the Safi Barracks Detention Centre had undergone refurbishment. New sanitary facilities have been installed as well as a large exercise area. However many detainees are still forced to sleep on the floor.  In the new "C Block", the Committee found conditions to be particularly poor, with little or no access to running water.  Moreover, the doors of B and C Blocks are closed everyday at 5pm, prohibiting detainees from accessing the outdoor exercise space.

The CPT found the Ta'Kandja Police Complex Detention Centre to be "cage-like, oppressive and grim". The Committee wrote: "Dry-rot and mould could be observed on the interior walls of the two dormitories, and the toilets and showers were in a dilapidated state. Immigration detainees were spending 22 hours a day confined to these two dormitories". 

In 2010 JRS Malta published a report on detention, as a part of the larger JRS Europe study, Becoming Vulnerable in Detention.  Their report confirms many of the CPT's findings, especially on the negative consequences of prolonged detention on mental health.