Back Council of Europe anti-torture committee publishes report on Romania, highlighting that the challenges facing the prison system remain extensive

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its ad hoc visit to Romania carried out from 10 to 21 May 2021, together with the response of the Romanian authorities. The visit focused on the treatment of persons held in prisons and police establishments.
Council of Europe anti-torture committee publishes report on Romania, highlighting that the challenges facing the prison system remain extensive

The CPT calls for the reform of the prison system as outlined in the updated Action Plan for the period 2020-2025 to be vigorously pursued. Improving the living conditions, offering a range of purposeful activities for prisoners to assist them in preparing for reintegration into the community, increasing prison staff numbers and ensuring that health care services in prisons meet the needs of prisoners are all priority areas to be addressed.

Moreover, the CPT’s report states that continued overcrowding in the prisons remains a serious problem, impacting not only on living conditions but also on the provision of activities, health care and violence. Two of the establishments visited, Craiova and Mărgineni Prisons, were operating above 150% of their capacity, offering many persons only 2m² of living space each in their cells. In addition, the material conditions in all the prisons visited were generally poor, with cells dilapidated and lacking furnishings, and mattresses and bedding worn out and infested with bed bugs.

The majority of persons met by the CPT’s delegation indicated that they had been treated correctly by staff. Nevertheless, a considerable number of allegations of physical ill-treatment of prisoners by prison staff were received, including by members of the masked intervention groups. This was notably the case at Giurgiu Prison, where credible allegations of several persons having been repeatedly subjected to blows to the soles of their feet were received: a torture method known as falaka. The CPT again raises serious concerns over the lack of recording of and reporting on injuries by the health care service and failures to investigate allegations of ill-treatment in prison effectively.

More generally, much remains to be done to improve the quality of health care for prisoners. Priority actions include: increasing staffing levels; furnishing all prisons with basic and emergency medical equipment; guaranteeing medical confidentiality; improving the recording of injuries; and the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to assist persons with drug-related issues.

Likewise, mental health care in prisons needs to be improved. The situation at Craiova and Mărgineni Prisons was particularly detrimental for persons suffering from a mental health disorder.

The report highlights that staffing levels in the prisons visited should be urgently reinforced. In this context, the CPT again questions the raison d’être and modus operandi of the masked intervention groups that operate in those establishments which accommodate prisoners under the maximum-security regime. These groups should be dissolved, the staffing complement on the maximum-security regime wings augmented and a dynamic security approach adopted.

As regards law enforcement, the report notes that the vast majority of persons interviewed by the CPT’s delegation stated that they had been treated correctly by police officers. Nevertheless, a few allegations of physical ill-treatment (slaps, punches, kicks and baton blows) by police officers were received from detained persons. The CPT recommends that greater efforts be made to ensure injuries observed by medical staff on persons admitted to police detention facilities are accurately recorded. The CPT also proposes that prosecutors be provided with their own investigators to enhance the independence as well as the promptness and thoroughness of investigations into allegations of ill-treatment.

The findings of the 2021 visit again highlight the poor material conditions and impoverished regime for persons held in Detention and Preventive Arrest Centres. The CPT is also particularly critical of the care and regime afforded to minors held in these centres.

In their response to the report, the Romanian authorities provide detailed information on the CPT’s recommendations on the situation regarding both prisons and police. In particular, the message of zero tolerance towards any aggressive behaviour by staff in prisons is reiterated along with an enhanced internal monitoring approach. Further, information is provided on the training offered to both police officers and prison staff to comply with human rights standards.

Read the report: in English, in Romanian
Read the executive summary: in English, in Romanian
Read the response: in English, in Romanian
The CPT and Romania

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