Report on the APADOR-CH visit at the Miercurea Ciuc Pre-Trial Arrest and Detention Center

Wednesday - 24 April 2019
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On the 5th of April 2019, two APADOR-CH representatives visited the Miercurea Ciuc Pre-Trial Arrest and Detention Center.

Features, concentration, investment

The Center only admits persons within the Harghita County territorial area.

At the time of the visit, the Center held 11 liberty-deprived persons, all male. According to the representatives present on scene, the number of persons within the detention center has decreased lately, as courts have issued fewer deprivation of liberty orders  and more house arrest and judicial supervision measures. As of March 2018, an average of 5 persons were held in the Detention Center, with intervals during which no persons were being held in detention/arrested. The declared full capacity is of 21 persons (relative to the number of installed beds in the 11 rooms of the center).

The establishment plan currently foresees 16 positions, out of which: 15 agents and a chief of detention. At the time of the visit, 4 agent positions were vacant.

All 11 rooms are situated on the ground floor, with floorplans ranging between 6,72 square meters (the smallest) and 18,76 square meters (the largest). There are 7 rooms containing 2 beds, 3 rooms containing 1 bed each and 1 room containing 4 beds.

In 2016, through a project financed with the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-2014, all windows were replaced using double-glazed type carpentry windows, while new beds and mattresses were acquired as well.

According to the spokesperson of theCenter, it underwent a series of maintenance repairs consisting of sanitizing and painting detention cells between 2017 and 2018.

All 11 rooms of the detention center are in need of critical investments (refurbishment), considering the complete lack of rehabilitation, the presence of mildew and water leakage, corroded sanitary facilities and substandard/poor hygienic conditions. There are two sanitary facilities in the hallway—one used by women (also used by the center’s personnel), and another used by the liberty-deprived men. The latter is equipped with Turkish toilets as well as showers above the toilets. There are three sinks. The toilets are plugged up with plastic (PET) bottles due to the fact that the sewer smell is pungent and difficult to endure. All sanitary facilities are rusty, old and partially functional.

Amenities in the detention cells are minimal: aside from beds, there is a table but no chair, in case the detained persons would like to eat at the table. The detainees confirmed that they have requested at least a chair, but the situation didn’t progress further from the “promise” stage. When asked about the situation, the center representatives said they fear that chairs might be used for self-harm purposes.

Each cell’s “amenity base” includes a plastic bucket used by detainees to relieve themselves during the night. The inmates specified that if they knock on the cell doors during the nights the supervisor will open the doors in order for them to use the facilities, but they resort to this only if they have an emergency; otherwise they usually don’t want to disturb and prefer to “use” the bucket during the interval between 22.00-06.00.

The Center representatives provided surprising explanations by stating that the keys of the detention cells are in the possession of the on-duty officer at the police station and not in the possession of the supervisor who provides security at the center during the night. In case there’s a request from a detainee such as using the facilities during 22.00-06.00, then the on-duty officer is contacted by the Center worker, the officer goes to the center, they open the cell door and wait until de liberty-deprived person returns to their cell, locks the door and returns to their post within the police station building.

The association calls attention to the fact that the use of a bucket to relieve physiological needs during the night constitutes inhumane and degrading treatment according to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Center representatives presented the full modernization and rehabilitation project, which was created and later updated in 2017. The acquisition procedure in SEAP was launched in 2018, but the request was rejected 3 times because it wasn’t in accordance with the procedure. For this investment, valued at approximately 400,000 euros, funds were allocated through a loan commitment for 2018, but the acquisition contract wasn’t closed until late 2018, thus obstructing the procedure until budget allocations are made for 2019.

The  Miercurea Ciuc Modernization project is comprehensive and will feature: outfitting and re-compartmentalizing the cells including common areas; replacing sanitary facilities in each cell, changing all of the sanitary and electrical installations, adding a new efficient surveillance system, phone system as well as new furniture.

The Association requests the continuation of the acquisition process once the 2019 budget is operational, considering the condition of the detention spaces that require urgent and extensive investment.

Cells are not equipped with outlets and lack television sets, a fact that detainees who spoke to association representatives have complained about. There is only one radio transmitter that broadcasts music during the day on a local radio station—selected by the supervisor—which plays in every cell. The radio station can be turned off at the request of the detainees.

The medical facility

The medical facility of Miercurea Ciuc Center is situated in an arranged space set up in the basement. At the time of the visit, according to the discussion with the doctor, the facility’s personnel consisted of 3 physicians: the chief physician with a daily schedule between 8-16, 2 doctors who provide on-call medical services in shifts—in case they are called in when they are home, they come in—and one medical nurse. The medical facility is fitted with minimal medical amenities and in case of emergencies, they call the 112 emergency service. The Center’s physician specified that the most common afflictions encountered are: behavioral and cardiac disorders. There was only one drug user in the course of 1 year.

The positioning of the telephone within the medical facility—used by inmates to communicate with the outside world—is entirely unusual. The telephone’s position is completely inappropriate due to the chosen location—within the medical facility—as well as due to the fact that visual surveillance cannot be provided to those using it. All detainees who spoke to the association representatives stated that the supervisor sits on a chair in the medical facility right next to the telephone, thus failing to guarantee the right to confidential phone conversations.

Activities, contact with the outside world/outside contact, other rights

Liberty-deprived persons who spoke with APADOR-CH representatives stated that they usually spend 1 to 2 hours in the yard. There is only one yard of approximately 18 square meters within the Center, equipped with a bicycle—received through the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014—and a small bench. The yard is fitted with a plexiglass roof across one-third of the yard’s surface so it can be used regardless of the season.

The room to provide the right to private visitations doesn’t exist.

The persons detained at the Center have confirmed that they only received toilet paper at the moment of entering detention, without having received further mandatory sanitation products (a bar of soap, shaving cream/foam and a single-use razor).

Conclusions and recommendations

APADOR-CH has appreciated that rehabilitation undertakings have commenced at Miercurea Ciuc Pre-Trial Arrest and Detention Center  in order to align the it with international standards regarding spaces for liberty-deprived persons. However, these efforts must remain consistent and be continued in order to finalize the projects mentioned in the report, considering that currently, the Center isn’t in compliance with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the recommendations of the European Committee with regard to preventing torture and inhumane and degrading punishment (CPT).

We request/ask the competent authorities to prioritize the allocation of necessary funds for the rehabilitation of CRAP Miercurea Ciuc.

Nicoleta Popescu

Georgiana Gheorghe