Report on the visit to the Center for Preventive Arrest and Detention attached to the Timiş County Police Inspectorate

Friday - 8 November 2013
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On November 8, 2013, two representatives of APADOR-CH visited the Center for Preventive Arrest and Detention (CPAD) attached to the Timiş County Police Inspectorate.

General considerations

At the time of the visit, CPAD Timiş held 40 persons, either retained or under arrest, among whom two minors, three young detainees and 35 adults. Two of the detainees were female and 38 were male.

Three of the detainees were only retained, 29 were on preventive arrest and 8 were convicts who underwent investigations in other criminal trials.

The detention capacity of the facility was 76 beds, distributed in 16 detention rooms: a confinement room, a double room and 14 rooms measuring 12-13 m 2 , furnished with 3-6 beds each.

At the time of the visit, the first floor was under renovation. The space used to be part of the Timiş Intelligence Archive, and was later turned into investigation rooms for the communist Security. The representatives of the facility said that funds were insufficient to complete the renovation and to organize detention spaces on the refurbished floor.

Lunch and dinner were provided by the Timişoara Penitentiary. Detainees complained about the quality of the food, which was often inedible.

Only one public payphone was available for the detainees and it was located in the office of the shift supervisor. Detainees could not have any confidentiality for their conversations, even for those with their families or legal advisors. Detainees complained that they could hardly use the phone, because the required phone cards were difficult to find on the market.

A mail box was located at the entrance of the facility. It was placed outside the detention area, so detainees who wanted to post a letter had to be escorted to the mailbox. Therefore, in exercising their right to freedom of correspondence, they depended upon the security agents and prison authorities in general. The envelopes were not opened, only mentioned in an out-going mail record.

CPAD Timiş did not have funds to buy stamps, envelopes, pens and paper; at the time of the visit, the right to freedom of correspondence was violated because detainees were not provided with the necessary materials. APADOR-CH recommends that a budget line should be created to purchase paper, envelopes, pens and stamps, so that detainees could exercise their rights.

The visitation room was separated in two and visits lasted for 30 minutes, 4 times per month. Detainees could not touch their visitors. This was pointed out by one of the detainees, who complained that he could not hug his baby during the visits.

The unit was under video surveillance, with video cameras located on the corridors. There had been no incidents involving the intervention squad.

Personnel

The facility employed 32 agents, one officer, one nurse and three drivers. It also worked with a psychologist employed by the Police Inspectorate, who provided counseling for detainees when necessary. The liaison judge came to the facility sporadically, in cases such as hunger strikes, when his presence was mandatory. Detainees who talked to the representatives of APADOR-CH did not know that they could ask for psychological counseling or that there was a liaison judge and what his attributions were.

APADOR-CH recommends that detainees should be informed about the possibility of requiring psychological counseling and about the existence of the liaison judge and the ways to get in touch with him.

Medical care

Medical care was provided by a nurse employed by CPAD Timiş and three collaborating doctors, who worked in weekly shifts. They were also the family doctors for many of the employees of the facility. The nurse also had security and escort duties when required.

Upon arrival at the facility, the detainees were identified, were asked a set of questions about their state of health and medical antecedents, were given a summary body check-up and then they were taken into custody and distributed to their quarters.

From the discussions with the nurse and the detainees, it turned out that the health control upon arrival was performed by the nurse, who made notations in the medical record that was later checked by a doctor. The doctor was called in only if the person brought to the facility bore visible marks of violence. It was not clear, from the discussion with the nurse, what was the schedule of the doctor on duty: he appeared to come in once in 24 hours and stay “as long as necessary”.

The medical office was equipped for primary medical assistance. In case of emergency, an ambulance was called.

No cases of withdrawal were registered among detainees; drug users were taken into custody only with a doctor’s approval. If the doctor considered it necessary, drug users were taken to the Neuro-Psychic Recovery and Rehabilitation Center for control and specialized treatment.

The visit to the facility

CPAD Timiş had two exercise yards where, according to the representatives of the facility, detainees could spend one hour per day, sometimes even longer. The information was not confirmed, however, during discussions with the detainees. The latter said they were allowed to stay outside for about half an hour; this only happened on weekdays so, to their discontentment, detainees had to spend Saturdays and Sundays locked in their rooms.

Detention rooms were on the ground floor and in the basement. The experts of APADOR-CH visited the following rooms: 8 (confinement), 6, 11 and 4 – on the basement; and 1(holding the two female detainees), 8 (holding the two minors) and 6 – on the ground floor. Each room had a barred window covered with a metal net, barely allowing in any natural light, especially underground, where electric lights were on permanently.

Rooms generally measured about 12 square meters and held three or four detainees. The rooms were in an advanced state of decay, with insalubrious toilets and showers. The shower hung above the Turkish toilet, separated from the rest of the room only by a curtain. In all rooms seen by the Association, the toilets were insalubrious and the stench filled the place. The toilet holes were filled with plastic bottles to keep rats away. The walls of the rooms were dirty and many of them were damp and moldy. The rooms were cold because the heating system had not been turned on yet.

The representatives of APADOR-CH talked to nine detainees, among whom the two women and a foreign citizen. The minors refused to talk to the representatives of the Association. During these discussions, detainees complained that they could not spend as much as one hour in the exercise yards and could not leave their rooms at all during the weekends. They also complained about the bad food, about the cold in the rooms, about the fact that they were not provided with envelopes to write to their beloved ones and about the fact that they could not find phone cards to be able to contact their families.

Conclusions:

As a result of their visit, the representatives of APADOR-CH recommend:

• Urgent sanitization of the detention spaces;

• Allotting funds to complete the works on the first floor of the building, given the fact that that space already has the characteristics of a detention center;

• Moving the payphone from the shift supervisor’s office to a space that may ensure confidentiality for the speakers; and moving the mailbox to a place that may be accessed by detainees directly.

Other findings and recommendations have been included in the report.

Nicoleta Popescu

Cristinel Buzatu