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Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on the Republic of Moldova

The Council of Europe's European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published today the report on its September 2015 visit to the Republic of Moldova.[1]
30/06/2016
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The information gathered during the visit indicated that the situation as regards the treatment of persons detained by the police in the Republic of Moldova had improved since the Committee’s previous visit in 2011. The great majority of persons interviewed by the CPT’s delegation who were, or had recently been, detained by the police stated that they had been treated correctly whilst in custody. However, the delegation did receive a number of allegations from detained persons of excessive use of force by the police at the time of apprehension, after the person concerned had been brought under control. Several allegations were also heard of physical ill-treatment during preliminary questioning by operational officers, in order to extract a confession. The alleged ill-treatment consisted essentially of slaps, punches and kicks, and in a few cases was of a severe nature (e.g. manual strangulation, severe beating, etc.).
 
Whilst acknowledging the progress made by the Moldovan authorities in recent years in combating police ill-treatment, the CPT stresses the need for additional vigorous action to stamp out this phenomenon. Several recommendations are also made to reinforce the safeguards afforded to persons detained by the police, in particular as concerns the right to be granted effective access to a lawyer as from the very outset of deprivation of liberty.
 
With the exception of Goian Prison, no allegations were received of recent physical ill-treatment by staff in the prisons visited. At Goian, the CPT’s delegation received a number of allegations from juvenile inmates of physical ill-treatment by certain staff members. The alleged ill-treatment mainly followed instances of disobedient behaviour by the juveniles and consisted of slaps, punches, kicks and truncheon blows. The Committee recommends that effective investigations be carried out into these allegations.
 
The delegation found evidence of a number of cases of inter-prisoner violence at Soroca Prison and, to a lesser extent, at Chișinău and Rezina Prisons. The report notes that such a situation is largely linked to the well-established informal hierarchy among inmates, which has been a long-standing feature of the prison subculture in the Moldovan penitentiary system. In particular at Soroca Prison, the delegation heard numerous accounts of beatings, threats and extortion by fellow inmates. The CPT calls upon the Moldovan authorities to take resolute action to prevent inter-prisoner intimidation and violence in these establishments, in particular by taking effective measures to tackle the phenomenon of an informal prison hierarchy with all its negative consequences.
 
As regards material conditions of detention in prisons, the national standard of at least 4 m2 of living space per prisoner was far from being met in most of the prisons visited; in particular at Chișinău and Soroca Prisons, the levels of overcrowding had reached disturbing proportions. Material conditions in these two prisons were inadequate also in many other respects (e.g. poor state of repair and hygiene; limited access to natural light; insalubrious sanitary facilities; infestation by vermin; etc.) and, in the CPT’s view, could be considered as amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment. At Chișinău Prison, the situation was further exacerbated by the impoverished regime to which remand prisoners were subjected.

On a positive note, the juvenile unit at Goian Prison offered satisfactory conditions of detention. Further, juveniles held in this establishment were offered general education classes, vocational training and various occupational activities, as well as sports and recreation. Efforts were also being made at Chișinău Prison to involve as many juveniles as possible in schooling and in vocational and sports activities.
 
In relation to health care, the CPT is concerned to note that the contributions made by the Prison Administration from its budget for the purchase of medication were insufficient, and the prisons visited depended to a certain extent on the humanitarian aid they could secure and on prisoners’ families.
 
As regards psychiatric/social welfare establishments visited, no allegations of physical ill-treatment of patients/residents by staff were received during the visits to Bălţi Psychiatric Hospital and Edineț Psychoneurological Home. On the contrary, there was a generally caring attitude by staff in both establishments. However, the report highlights the necessity to widen the range of therapeutic and occupational activities for patients/residents. In this connection, the CPT considers that the staffing levels were grossly insufficient at Edineț Psychoneurological Home and recommends that they be significantly increased. Further, the report is critical of legal safeguards in the context of the involuntary placement of patients/residents; in particular, the Committee recommends that urgent steps be taken to put in place a clear and comprehensive legal framework governing involuntary placement and stay of residents in social care homes.
 
The main findings of the CPT are set out in the Executive Summary of the report.
 
The report is available in English on the Committee’s website: http://www.cpt.coe.int.

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[1]  The report has been made public under an automatic publication procedure introduced by the Moldovan authorities in 2011. According to this procedure, all future CPT reports on visits to the Republic of Moldova and the related Government responses shall be published without a need for specific authorisation. The Moldovan Government reserves the right, in certain cases, to refuse or delay a publication.


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