PM Grindeanu: We have to draw up a plan
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has released on Tuesday the pilot decision for Romania regarding the prison conditions in Romania.
The detention conditions in the Romanian penitentiary system are contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights and reveal structural malfunction that requires the adoption of general measures by the state, the ECHR decided on Tuesday in the case of ‘Rezmiveş and others against Romania’, realitatea.net reports.
By this pilot decision, the ECHR found that Article 3 of the Convention, which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment, was violated in this case concerning the conditions of detention in Romanian prisons as well as in police detention facilities.
The Romanian state has to pay moral damages to Rezmiveş and Gazsi of EUR 3,000 each, and to Mavroian and Moșmonea – EUR 5,000 each. Also, Moșmonea must receive EUR 1,850 representing taxes and expenses.
The ECHR has decided to suspend all cases regarding the conditions in Romanian prisons until our country comes up with a timetable to resolve the problems.
Over the past nine years, the ECHR has ruled that detainees whose rights have been violated should receive from the Romanian state compensations of almost EUR 2 million.
It is to be noticed that the ECHR has not set a deadline for taking measures to improve the prison conditions, only a six month interval for Romania to come up with a decision plan.
Thus, the ECHR ruled that, in a six months timeframe from coming into force of its decision, Romania should come up with a plan, in cooperation with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, with a ‘precise calendar’ for general measures to resolve the issue of prisons overcrowding and prisons conditions.
There is no mention of financial sanctions for Romania. Former Justice Minister Raluca Pruna mentioned a possible sanction of EUR 80 million, taking as example Italy. Later on the Social-democratic Party (PSD) has taken advantage of this information to justify the attempt to pardon prisoners sentenced for corruption.
The ECHR decision becomes final three months from now, if Romania does not challenge it to the Grand Chamber, and then follow the six months available for Bucharest to come up with a plan. Thus, Romania has ahead nine months to submit the plan requested by the ECHR.
The pilot procedure, as described in the European Court of Human Rights regulation, applies when the Court considers that a significant number of similar claims are pending, the cause of which is common and appears to be a structural or systemic malfunction in the respondent state. Through this form of cooperation with the state, it examines whether national malfunctions exist and, if they exist, the ECHR sets a timeframe in which the government must identify and implement general measures to overcome the deficiencies found.
Guido Raimondi, the president of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), said earlier this year that the number of cases against Romania increased by 108% in 2016, adding that there are repetitive cases that reflect systemic or structural difficulties and require finding solutions at national level.
The applicants, Daniel Arpad Rezmiveş, Marius Mavroian, Laviniu Moşmonea and Iosif Gazsi, are Romanian nationals who were born in 1970, 1966, 1976 and 1972 respectively. The case concerns the conditions of detention in Romanian prisons and in detention facilities attached to police stations.
Mr Rezmiveş, Mr Moşmonea and Mr Gazsi, who are currently detained in Timişoara, Pelendava and Baia Mare Prisons, and Mr Mavroian, who was detained in Focşani Prison and was released on 13 January 2015, complain in particular of overcrowding, lack of space and poor hygiene conditions in their cells (presence of rats, mould on the walls, and so on), inadequate access to showers and toilets, a lack of natural light, poor ventilation, and the unsatisfactory quality of the equipment and food provided in the prisons in which they were or are still detained.
Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), the applicants complain of the conditions of their detention in Gherla, Aiud, Oradea, Craiova, Târgu-Jiu, Pelendava, Rahova, Tulcea, Iaşi and Vaslui Prisons, and in the Baia Mare police detention facilities.
PM Grindeanu: We have to draw up a plan in the next six months
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu reacted to the ECHR decision, saying that “we have to draw up a plan in the next six months, so that the problems noticed by ECHR are solved, as the decision comes following the problems at the penitentiaries. We have e deadline of six months to draw up the measures,” PM Grindeanu said.
The Premier said he has had discussion with Justice Minister Tudorel Toader minutes before. “I am sure he would come with a plan, in due course, so that we approve the plan in six months, to take concrete steps and finally to do in six months what hasn’t been done in 26 years,” Grindeanu said.
He added it is enough time to concrete steps, “to prove we are determined to observe the ECHR decision and to improve the prison conditions; these are not issues said by one or another, today it was proved these are extremely serious problems,” the Premier concluded.
Supreme Court president: Enough time to submit a calendar
The President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ – Supreme Court) Cristina Tarcea said a calendar for measures could be drawn up in six-month time, but the problems cannot be solved.
“It’s the government’s problem to ensure the prison capacities with a decent standard for detainees. It is enough time to submit a calendar of measures (…) but I am rather sceptical about the final solving of the problems. One cannot solve in six months what hasn’t been solved in 20 years,” Trepcea said.
Chamber’s law committee head: Now you see we were right
The head of the Chamber of Deputies law committee, Eugen Nicolicea, said “now you see we were right to act within the limits set by the European Commission’s requests and by the ECHR? (…) This decision comes to support the law committee activity and contradicts what was written by you detractors. Now you see we were right.”
The Director of the National Administration of Penitentiaries: Pardon and home arrest do not solve the problem
The Director of the National Administration of Penitentiaries (ANP) said the pardon law and home arrest do not solve the problem of overcrowded penitentiaries, the only solution being, over long term, the building of new facilities.
“Over long term, there’s only one solution, the building of new detention facilities and to modernize the old ones. The number of inmates varies; there were 35,000, now there are about 27,200,” ANP Director Marius Vulpe said. He added: “Pardon and home arrest do not solve the problem. The best solution is to build new facilities within the existent penitentiaries,” Vulpe said.
APADOR-CH: It’s not hard to draw up a plan, the difficult part is to implement it
APADOR-CH Executive Director Nicoleta Andreescu said on Tuesday it’s actually a timeframe of nine months. “Moreover, the ECHR does not request the implementation of measures, but a viable and coherent plan. It’s not hard to draw a plan in six months, the difficult part is to implement it. (…) The issue will be monitored by the department for implementing the ECHR decisions with the Ministers’ Committee,” she said./IBNA