Retour Handover ceremony - “Strengthening the prison and probation reforms, provision of health care and treatment of patients in closed institutions in the Republic of Moldova”

As delivered by Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe


Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova,

Prison Director,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It is a pleasure to hand over today a donation of important medical equipment.

This is the second such donation from the Council of Europe –

And I hope and believe that it will help meet the aim of covering the outstanding needs of all healthcare units, in all prisons, in this country.

This collection includes patient monitors, electric surgical tables and EEG equipment –

Along with examination lamps, portable laptop ultrasound scanners, and even various medical furniture.

I am sure, this donation will play a vital role.

Patients in institutions like this often have complex medical needs –

But at the same time, they also have the same right to healthcare as all of us –

Care that in prisons, should always meet the standards defined and upheld by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).

And it is really excellent that the Council of Europe and the Moldovan authorities can work together to meet these needs –

With the provision of healthcare in prisons in the Republic of Moldova rising to meet the requirements of international standards in this field.

And actually what we do today, builds on the experience of working together over several years.

Already back in 2018, the Council of Europe carried out a comprehensive assessment of healthcare needs within the Moldovan prison system.

This led to a first donation of medical equipment in 2020 –

As well as a wide range of Council of Europe-supported reforms to the prison and probation system.

These have targeted all aspects of healthcare in prison, so as to better ensure prisoners’ health –

Create a more positive climate for the rehabilitation of prisoners –

And ultimately help facilitate their eventual reintegration into society.

Reforms have included ensuring better conditions in prison medical units –

Stronger rules on healthcare and dietary standards –

And new tools for supporting vulnerable prisoners, preventing violence and providing mental healthcare –

As well as recommendations on medical ethics and releasing seriously ill detainees –

And last but not least, on the training and professional development of prison and probation staff.

Over the last three years, much of the progress made has come via the Council of Europe Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova –

And notably through its specific project that brings us here today –

“Strengthening the prison and probation reforms, provision of health care and the treatment of patients in close institutions in the Republic of Moldova”.

I believe it is right to say that over the course of these years that the Council of Europe has benefited from increasingly strong relationships with the Ministry of Justice, the National Administration of Penitentiaries and other partner institutions on the ground.

The level of commitment and co-operation has grown year by year – –

And has resulted in several joint efforts and initiatives -

Such as new rules on the delivery of healthcare and the management of medicines in the prisons system.

But I am sure we can do even more together.

And within our joint Action Plan, we are at work now on a strategy to combat prison overcrowding, which has also a clear link to prisoner violence.

And in due course, we look forward to making progress with the Moldovan authorities in turning this plan into tangible results –

Just as we look forward to seeing the concrete results of the Moldovan authorities’ National Mental Health Programme, that began last year – and which will run until 2027 –

And that includes a number of concrete recommendations from the Council of Europe, notably on the psychosocial rehabilitation of patients in psychiatric hospitals.

Dear friends,

In sum, the excellent co-operation and partnership between the Council of Europe and the Moldovan authorities is no doubt delivering and helps us raise together the standard of healthcare in prisons –

And thereby also the health and long-term well-being of prisoners.

A great deal has been achieved in a short period of time.

In handing over this key medical equipment today, we have reached another crucial milestone.

This we can all take pride in, as we also move on to further expand our co-operation.


Thank you for your attention.


Chişinău 9 April 2024
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