Report on the visit of the Centre for Pre-Trial Arrest and Detention No. 1, situated in Bucharest

Saturday - 6 April 2019
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On March 19th, 2019, two APADOR -CH representatives visited the Centre for Pre-Trial Arrest and Detention No. 1 (CPAD No. 1) from Bucharest, known to the general public as the Central Custody Centre. The last visit took place in 2016, the report of that visit can be accessed at Association’s website.

Specifics, number of employees, investments

The Centre for Pre-Trial Arrest and Detention is still the largest one in Bucharest and coordinates the activity of all other remand custody centres. This custody centre ensures the transfer of detainees to the provisional custody centres situated in Bucharest and Ilfov County (where there are such centres) to penitentiaries in Bucharest and Ilfov County and handles the distribution of food from the Rahova Penitentiary to all detention centres in Bucharest.

Fifty-four persons were held in custody on the day of our visit, 40 men (4 minors) and 14 women. According to the CPAD’s representative, the number of persons held in provisional custody has steadily decreased lately, as the courts issue fewer arrest warrants and more house arrest and judicial review orders. In the timeframe between March 2018 until the day of our visit, no more than 65 persons were detained here, although the capacity of the Centre is of 88 detainees (47 men and 41 women, with an average of 4 sqm/person).

After the last visit of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and upon its recommendation, starting with late 2018 it was decided that all minors executing a provisional custody warrant in the jurisdiction of Bucharest and Ilfov County are brought to the Centre for Pre-Trial Arrest and Detention no. 1. Starting with February 2019 all minors were moved to CPAD  1. Before this decision, the minors were held at the Centre for Pre-Trial Arrest and Detention no. 12 inside the Regional Precinct of the Bucharest Transport Police. APADOR – CH regards the measure to move the minors at the CPAD  1 as beneficial, as the minors are held under better detainment conditions which are compliant to the international standards. At the date of our visit, 4 minors were detained at CPAD  1, all of them boys.

The current organisational chart contains 94 positions for 85 police agents, 5 waiters (contract staff) and 4 administrative personnel. There are currently 5 vacant positions (3 police agents and 2 waiters). The Association cannot help but notice that in 2016 the Centre employed 44 police agents while the number of detainees was much higher, and currently, the number of employed agents nearly doubled. Even the Centre’s representatives acknowledged that the current number of employees is sufficient, and all the vacant positions were occupied by graduates of the “Vasile Lascar” Campina Police Academy.

According to the CPAD no. 1 representative, various investments were carried out during 2017 and 2018 for the complete renovation of the underground floor and the equipment of all the 18 rooms therein. The ground floor, with its 11 rooms for women, still needs renovating.

The underground floor – detainment area for men

All the 18 rooms on the underground floor, with a total surface area of 208.01 sqm were renovated entirely and commissioned in April 2018. The 18 rooms are structured as follows: 5 rooms with an area of 8,46 sqm (room DS 18) and 9, 15 sqm (room DS 15) with 2 beds or even one bed, and 13 rooms with areas between 13.42 sqm (room DS 9) and 14.56 sqm (room DS8) with 3 or 4 beds.

The renovation works consisted of: the complete replacement of all sanitary installations and objects, the shower and toilet were separated from the rest of the room with a doors, the rooms were pained, fitted with sensors warning the supervising agents if an inmate stays too long in the bathroom or if they request to talk to the supervising agent. The floors were coated with epoxy floor paint, and the doors were replaced. Before this renovation, between 2009-2014 all windows were replaced with insulated windows, as well as all the beds and new air conditioners were installed in all the rooms, through a project financed by the Norwegian Financing Mechanism. These new furnishings are still in place today.

Three minors were held in one of the rooms visited by the APADOR -CH representatives, two of them had arrived a few days prior, and one of them had been held in pre-trial custody for a month. All three of them stated that they receive all sanitary products needed and that they sometimes receive food products from home because the food served here is not very good.

Furthermore, most of the detainees the APADOR – CH representatives talked to complained about the quality of the food served here. Note that the food served here comes readily made from the Rahova Penitentiary. Moreover, during our visit, an employee who was serving lunch to the detainees mentioned that the sour soup with meatballs, which was on the menu that day, barely contained any meatballs.

The underground floor also has 2 rooms with a total of 18 new refrigerators. This is where the detainees can store their food (1 refrigerator for each room), and a room called barber’s shop, where one a week an employee of the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs offers barber services and where a washing machine for the detainee’s clothing was installed (the machine was functional on the day of our visit) and a library filled with books received from donations.

The ground floor – detainment area for women

A renovation project for the ground floor, where the women are detained, is in place for 2019. The funds have been requested from the Romanian General Police Inspectorate; however, the budget has not been approved yet; thus the funds are still missing.

The 11 rooms where the women are detained need urgent renovations considering that they are full of mould, water infiltrations, rusty sanitary installations and lack hygiene. Furthermore, the occupants of the room have to block the doors to the toilets with plastic bottles, to stop the malodour from the sewage system from entering the room.  There are four beds installed here, although the surface area of the rooms is minimal (between 8.74 sqm – room P.11 the smallest of them all and 9.76 sqm – room P.1- the largest room). The Centre’s representatives admit that they should remove the empty beds but have postponed this operation until the start of the renovation works.  The square footage of the detainment areas on the ground floor is 88.53 sqm, i.e. less than half than the renovated area on the underground floor.

In one of the rooms we visited, the two women detained there complained about the malodour coming from the sewage system through the toilet and about the precarious hygienic conditions.

The doctor’s office

The doctor’s office is inside the Centre on the underground floor and serves both CPAD nr. 1 and all other pre-trial arrest and detention centres in Bucharest. This office is subordinated to the medical directorate of the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs. At the time of our visit, and from the discussion with the doctor who was present, the medical staff consists of 3 doctors, 2 of which are employed by the Romanian Ministry of Interior Affairs and a doctor employed with a collaboration agreement, and 5 nursing staff. There was a new job opening for a doctor, and the recruitment process for it was in progress. The three officers work in shifts and provide medical services between 08.00 – 23.00 daily. The increase in the number of doctors is appreciated since at the time of our last visit there was only one doctor for the entire facility. The current 3 doctors see an average of 15 patients per shift. The doctor’s office was equipped with a defibrillator and an EKG machine. If the detainees require dental procedures, then these are provided by a dentist from the clinic of the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The doctor mentioned that, if the detainees request medical services in private clinics, then these are granted. The most common illnesses are mental health issues, which are treated by the medical specialist from the “Profesor Doctor Alexandru Obregia” Psychiatric Hospital. Behavioural and sleep disorders are quite common, mostly explained by the sudden switch between life on the outside and being incarcerated. Considering the high number of drug-addicted detainees, the cooperation with the Romanian Anti-Drug Agency is excellent. The yearly average of drug-addicted persons detained is between 500 and 600 persons.  Starting with 2017 the drug addicts receive methadone treatment from the representatives of the Romanian Anti-Drug Agency, who come to the Centre upon request.

Activities, outside contacts and other rights

The detainees the APADOR -CH representatives, talked to, stated that they usually spend 20-30 minutes in the courtyard. The Centre has the same 4 courtyards even after the 2018 renovations, two at the underground floor for men of 3.81/3 m and two on the ground floor for women of 5.57/3.5 m. If during our previous visit the renovation of the courtyards were just a project for the future, at the date of our visit, we found out that the courtyards were renovated and a plexiglass roof was installed, which covers a third of the yard so that it is now possible to use the yard in any weather. All courtyards have a stationary bike and treadmill, bought with the help of the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. APADOR-CH really appreciates how the courtyards were renovated. The fitness machines offer some opportunities for physical activity, considering the limited space of these courtyards. However, the general appearance of the courtyards which are surrounded by 3-meter-high walls is still that of a small cage and not that of an outside area.

Compared to our last visit, the situation of the room for phone calls hasn’t changed. The supervisors’ desk is still in the same room, and from the discussions with the detainees, we concluded that the police agent responsible for this right is present in the room during the conversations. Just because the 3 phone numbers each detainee is allowed to call must be written down and the 30-minute timeframe needs tracking, this must not infringe on the detainees’ privacy. The Centre’s representative stated that they are planning to install a VoIP system in the rooms. We take note of the fact that not all telephones were functional and a telephony system similar to those used in prisons must be installed.

The room for conjugal visits was not ready at the time of our visit.

The Centre has a room for video calls or hearings, but the technical equipment is incomplete, quite outdated and not fully functional. APADOR-CH considers that as long as there was enough space in the administrative area which was used for this purpose, then this area must be appropriately equipped so that it observes the rights of detainees to online conversations (right foreseen by art. 65 of Law no. 254/2013 on the execution of prison sentences and detention orders), but it can also be used if the courts request to conduct any hearings via video call.  

 The Centre also has a new video surveillance system. We must note that this objective was just a hypothetical project during our last visit.

The detainees confirmed that when they entered into custody, they received all the necessary mandatory toiletries (a bar of soap, toilet paper and a safety razor and sanitary pads for the women). These products are given out one time when they enter in custody, but the detainees who do not receive any visits, these products are given out on an exceptional basis, if the detainment is prolonged.

The problem of observing the detainees’ rights to make small purchases for essential products (art. 70 of Law no. 254/2013) remains. The police agents still handle the matter personally, by making these purchases themselves and then distributing them to the detainees.  APADOR-CH appreciates the initiative of the Centre’s representatives to launch a tender and invite numerous retailers to offer online shopping services for these products. Thus, the police agents will be able to buy the products online, and the products would be delivered directly to the Centre and then distributed to the detainees.

The positive changes compared to the last visit from July 2016 have been noted throughout the report as well as improvement of the detention conditions of CDAP No. 1.

Concluding remarks and recommendations

APADOR -CH reports that although the underground floor has been completely renovated, the Centre is still in need of funds for the renovation of the ground floor, where the women are detained. All 11 rooms with a total area surface of 88.53 sqm are in dire need of renovations.

Nicoleta Popescu

Dollores Benezic

Translator: Cristina Badea-Gutu