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

13.05.2014
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On May 13, 2014, representatives of APADOR-CH and RHRN visited the Center for Preventive Arrest and Detention (CPAD) of Iași County.

1.      Population, detention space, hygiene, food

Since 2006, the facility has been located on a temporary basis on the semi-basement of the Iași Municipal Police station (awaiting the refurbishment of the County Police Inspectorate custody facility in the Copou neighborhood). Only 40% of the costs for the new building have been covered before the works stopped for lack of funding. It is not known when it is to be completed and when the new CPAD will be ready.

The capacity of the current facility was of 81 persons (11 three-bed rooms measuring 6.21 sq. m each and 6 eight-bed rooms measuring 13.8 meters each). The overcrowding is extreme. At the time of the visit, the center held 29 detainees, of whom 5 women, but there have been times when the population went over 70.

The personnel scheme included 28 employees: one chief, 25 agents (one woman) and two vacant entry-level positions, (which were not filled because of the very low salaries).

The rooms had no lavatories, showers or sinks. The lavatory was located on the corridor. Detainees had to ask the supervisor to use it (they said that if someone needed to use the toilet, all occupants of the room had to go at the same time!), but only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. During the night, they had to use plastic buckets. The signatory associations point out that the impossibility to use the toilet at any moment of day of night is tantamount to degrading treatment and is sanctioned by Article 3 of the European Convention for Human Rights.

The lavatory on the corridor included two cabins equipped with Turkish toilets and showers and two sinks, one of which was out of order at the time of the visit. The rooms were full of steam and water dripped on the moldy walls. Detainees could take a shower twice a week, always in groups.

The food storage room was equipped with a fridge and a combined fridge-freezer, where detainees could store the food they received from home.

On the grounds that the facility overlooked „the street”, windows were barred and covered with two thick perforated metal sheets – the perforations were very small so air and natural light were almost completely blocked. APADOR-CH and RHRN ask that, until the new facility is open, the current facility give up the metal shutters. If it is not possible to give up both, at least one should be removed, in order to improve ventilation and natural lighting.

The facility followed Law no. 254/2013 on the execution of custodial sentences, although the enforcement regulations for CPADs have not been approved yet. The staff of CPAD Iași knew that the regulations could be expected soon, because they had been placed under public debate. The Association points out that the Regulations had been under public debate since March 2014, but a final form failed to be approved to this day.

CPAD agents did the shopping for detainees twice a week, from a local shop. The signatory associations suggest that the CPAD Câmpina example should be followed, where the staff found a method beyond suspicion that does not make detainees dependent on members of the staff. Shopping there is provided by a private company, who buys the items on the lists collected by the staff and delivers them at the facility.

The facility provided detainees with bedding, but also soap and toilet paper, if they could not purchase their own.

The food for CPAD Iaşi was prepared and delivered on a daily basis by the Iaşi Penitentiary. The detainees who spoke with the two associations said that food was bad, almost impossible to eat. Their statements can be confirmed by the representatives of the association, who could see for themselves that the food offered to Iaşi Penitentiary inmates was low in calories.

2. Medical care

The medical office looked austere, equipped with old furniture. A doctor (who was also the family doctor for the staff) and two nurses worked here on a daily basis and could be called in if  needed (at the time of the visit, the doctor was absent at 10 a.m.)

Emergencies were treated by calling 112. If detainees were brought to the facility before 4 p.m., they were examined by the doctor. If they arrived at a later hour, the doctor was called in if they declared they had prior medical problems, or they were examined on the next day. As there was no permanent medical staff, medical care upon arrival could not be provided.

The facility allowed medication prescribed by external doctors, but only pills, not capsules, injections or creams.

In 2013, a death took place in custody and an investigation established the cause of death (dead “by hanging”)

None of the detainees followed a drug substitution treatment and methadone was not allowed at the facility. There had been no cases of drug withdrawal (only alcohol withdrawal, which received no treatment whatsoever). Drug and alcohol addicts were seen by a psychiatrist after their arrival at the facility.

A drug user, C.V. – who could only be interviewed by the representatives of associations only after the case prosecutor gave his consent, by phone, to the chief commissioner of the facility – had been arrested two days before and suffered from insomnia. He had not been examined by the doctor upon his arrival (it was a Sunday). It was only a day later that anybody asked him whether he had any medical problems and at the time of the visit, he had yet to be seen by the psychiatrist.

3. Activities

The facility had two small courtyards (2.40×6.20 m each), uncovered and with no equipment whatsoever, where detainees could spend one hour per day in the open air. None of the detention rooms had a TV set – it would have been useless, anyway, since there was no TV cable connection. Detainees had no organized activity, not even going to the so-called club, as in other facilities (a room with a TV set and possibly some games). There was however a “library”, a couple of shelves with books, in a room occupied by one detainee, whom the staff called “the works inmate”. It was unclear whether the other detainees had access to this room, or books were available exclusively to the person held there.

4. Correspondence and visitation

The pay phone was located one meter away from the desk of the supervisor, who could not help hearing the conversations. Under such circumstances, the “confidentiality” of phone calls is a mere empty word. The signatory associations ask for concrete steps to ensure the right to confidential communication between detainees and their lawyers, families and any phone interlocutors.

Next to the payphone, Law no. 275/2006 (abrogated) was posted in plain view (“so that detainee may compare it with the new one”, the staff said. The new one was supposed to be available in a printed form, but was “just being read by one of the detainees”).

The visitation room had 4 places and a separator. The supervisor sat right by the visitors, so the confidentiality of meetings, with either legal counsels or family members, was not observed.

The CPAD provided paper and envelopes for those who could not afford them, but not the necessary postal stamps. Mail was picked up every day by a postal worker.

5. Discussion with detainees

Discussions with detainees took place in the presence of the chief commissioner or of a supervisor, who claimed they were obliged “to ensure the security of visitors” or that the case prosecutor had to be informed about each private interview with a detainee and had to approve it beforehand.

6. Detention rooms

Two women were held in Room 26, which measured about 12 sq. m and had 8 beds, 5 of them with mattresses. The room was dark, lit only by a feeble electric bulb, and the air was stale. If all beds had been occupied, the overcrowding and unbreathable air would have amounted to inhuman treatment.

Another room was occupied by two detainees, but had 8 beds installed. Detainees had plastic tubs to urinate in and had to ask to go to the bathroom, in a group, if they needed to defecate. The situation is an example of degrading treatment and similar circumstances have been encountered in other police custody facilities.

Conclusions:

  • The standards in terms of detention space, ventilation, hygiene, confidentiality of meetings and phone calls were not observed at this facility. The signatory associations ask for concrete measures to ensure confidential conversation between detainees and their attorneys or families, as well as confidential phone conversations.
  • Given the double layered perforated metal sheet on the windows, all rooms are devoid of natural light and air. APADOR-CH and RHRN urge that, until the new building is ready, the metal shutters be removed. If it is not possible to remove both, at least one should be taken out, in order to improve ventilation and natural lighting, at least to some extent
  • The associations took note that in some situations detainees were brought in to CPAD Iași without a medical exam and ask for measures to remedy this problem.

Dragos Roşca                                                                                    Nicoleta Popescu

RHRN                                                                                                APADOR-CH