The fight against torture is one of the long-standing policy priorities of the European Union (EU). A delegation of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a visit to Germany from 13 to 15 August 2018 to monitor treatment of foreign nationals during return flight from Germany to Afghanistan. The CPT’s delegation monitored a charter flight from Munich (Germany) to Kabul (Afghanistan) under the authority of the German Federal Police. On the eve of the flight, the delegation met representatives of the Federal Police and officials from the authorities in Bavaria, including representatives of the Bavarian State Ministry of the Interior and for Integration and the Bavarian State Police. It also held consultations with the National Agency for the Prevention of Torture (National Preventive Mechanism). This is the fifth time the CPT has examined a removal operation by air. Previously, the CPT has monitored return flights from the United Kingdom in October 2012, from the Netherlands in October 2013, from Italy in December 2015, and from Spain in February 2016.
On 18 July 2018, the CPT welcomed the publication of reports of the CPT’s visits to Azerbaijan in 2004, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 together with the responses of the Azerbaijani Government. Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the CPT, said, “Azerbaijan’s decision to publish all reports which have so far remained confidential is a major breakthrough and a clear indication of the authorities’ resolve to enhance their dialogue with the Committee.” The CPT stated that “torture and other forms of physical ill-treatment by the police and other law enforcement agencies, corruption in the whole law enforcement system and impunity remain systemic and endemic”. “The Committee has repeatedly observed, most recently during its ad hoc visit in October 2017, that torture and other forms of severe physical ill-treatment of persons detained by the police, other law enforcement agencies and the army remain widespread, and there is a serious problem of impunity (lack of effective investigations) and ineffective legal safeguards for detained persons (access to a lawyer, notification of custody, access to a doctor, information on rights). Moreover, the findings during the 2017 ad hoc visit suggest the existence of a generalised culture of violence among the staff of various law enforcement agencies”, the CPT said in a statement after the six confidential reports were released by Azerbaijan.