"In most cases, the persons...complained of having been beaten with truncheons or hit with clubs or metal objects or punched."
Excerpt from Council of Europe report citing police abuse of prisoners
"The Committee for the Prevention of Torture considers that [these people] run a considerable risk of being maltreated by the police when they are arrested and in the first hours of detention," the report said.
"In most cases, the persons concerned complained of having been beaten with truncheons or hit with clubs or metal objects or punched," it said, adding that some suspects had been handcuffed to radiators during this treatment.
The Slovak government agreed to the report's publication, which followed a 1995 visit by committee experts, and said in its reply that it accepted their recommendations for better police training and civil rights instruction.
The committee expressed concern that suspects in police custody appeared to be sometimes denied access to a lawyer, contrary to the law. The Slovak response acknowledged some past abuses, saying they had been subject to investigation and prosecution.
But it added: "It must be noted that the arrests [of persons suspected of criminal offences] are the result of violations of the law...and that these people must therefore be conscious of the consequences of their acts and the possibility of being subjected to a certain degree of violence, within the limits of the law, during operations intended to uphold it."
Western officials have cited shortcomings in civil and minority rights as reasons why Slovakia is unlikely to be among the first former communist central European states to join the European Union and NATO. The committee was instituted by the European convention on the prevention of torture, to which 32 of the 40 members of the Council of Europe have subscribed. It has the right to inspect prisons and detention centers in member states.
10. Apr 1997 at 0:00 | Reuters