THE DETENTION CONDITIONS IN THE LIGHT OF THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS
AUTHORESS: Criminal law solicitor, Poroșnicu Gianina Vera (National Union of Law Bars Romania – Law Bar Iași)
We propose below a brief list of the detention conditions, the European standards with which they have to comply, respectively the brief presentation of several cases where Romania was charged by the Court of Strasbourg for the failure to fulfil this obligation to comply with these standards.
The Council of Europe is an international, intergovernmental and regional organization that has so far been joined by 47 states. Its objective is “to make on the European continent a common space to democracy and to the right in order to comply with fundamental values, human rights, pluralist democracy and rightful state.”
We started with the definition of this organisation because we think it is very useful to know that the European Convention of the Human Rights, the statutory instrument to which we make reference and which was undertaken by its signatory states, was adopted within the Council of Europe.
Romania joined the Council of Europe on 4 October 1993, therefore it has the obligation to comply with all the juridical instruments adopted by this organisation.
Moreover, within the Council of Europe there is a Committee for the Prevention of Torture, a body meant to offer protection to the freedom deprived persons against inhuman and/or degrading treatments and punishments.
Each state has the right to appoint a member in this committee. Its members work as independent and impartial experts, specialized in the interest field of this committee, respectively jurists, forensics, psychiatrists and specialists in penitentiary issues.
The membres of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture organise unexpected visits in detention places located in the member states within the Council of Europe. During these visits, there are discussions with state officials, freedom deprived persons, attorneys, respectively representatives of NGO-s. The conclusions of these discussions are written down in reports that contain the findings of the delegation of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture as well as the recommendations addressed to the state in question.
It is necessary to mention the fact that this control mechanism made by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture has a non-jurisdictional and preventive character. Nevertheless, the reports made by this committee are very important for the development of the case law from ECHR having in view that many decisions of the court contain findings or recommendations from the reports.
Since 1993 until today, the representatives of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture paid 9 visits in Romania, the latest was in 2014.
During the latest visit, they identified a series of system faults in some custody or detention centres, an aspect that determined a series of recommendations from the experts of the committed, respectively:
1. to provide a space of minimum 4 sq.m. in each collective ward;
2. to have sufficient access to the natural and artificial light for the air;
3. to enlarge the windows;
4. to provide with mattresses, respectively bed linen to hygienic standards;
5. to provide with an adequate system to clean and hygiene the wards, respectively the sanitary installations to adequate standards;
6. to offer the detainees the possibility to spend minimum one hour in open air in an adequate space ;
7. to provide with food portions by imposing various and adequate food;
8. to provide with the adequate medical staff, respectively the access of the detainees to the medical services.
Article 3 from the European Convention of the Human Rights stipulates that nobody can go through torture, punishments, inhuman or degrading treatments.
The Court of Strasbourg analysed several cases and their detention conditions from the perspective of the inhuman treatments, among which the case with the greatest impact is the case Pantea vs. Romania.