THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Two international rights organizations criticized the Dutch government Tuesday for detaining people convicted of or suspected of terror offenses in "inhuman conditions" at two top-security prison units.
Amnesty International and the Open Society Justice Initiative said in a report that detainees in the two units are routinely confined to their individual cells for between 19 and 22 hours each day, and that guards "routinely and frequently administer full-nudity body searches that are invasive and humiliating."
In a written reaction, Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker said that Dutch prisons, including the two terror units, adhere to international standards and defended the detention regime as a way of combatting the spread among inmates of extremist ideology.
The 60-page report said that restrictions on social contacts for detainees in some cases "appeared to be in breach of the state's obligation to treat detainees humanely or of the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
Measures used at the units "can unnecessarily isolate and humiliate people" and violate the Netherlands' human rights obligations, Doutje Lettinga, of Amnesty International Netherlands, said in a statement.
The report, based on interviews with 50 people including 19 ex-detainees, recommends that suspects awaiting trial on terror charges should not be held together with detainees convicted of terror offenses. It also said people should only be placed in the top-security units based on individual risk assessments and not purely because they are suspected or convicted of terror offenses.
It also called for an end to strip searches unless "absolutely necessary and proportionate in light of a concrete security need."
The report acknowledged, however, that the Dutch government has begun making changes to the system, including using risk assessments to differentiate between "leaders" and "followers" and tailor security measures accordingly.
In his defense of the detention units, Dekker said that, "Placing these detainees in a separate department counters the spread or radical ideology and (detainees) influencing one another."