On September 25, 2013, two representatives of APADOR-CH visited the Center for Preventive Arrest and Detention (CPAD) attached to the Cluj County Police Inspectorate (IPJ).
CPAD Cluj was located in the semi-basement of the Cluj IPJ building. Detention conditions at CPAD Cluj were obviously in violation of the international standards that Romania has pledged to observe. The rooms had no windows and no source of light inside , so they were always dark and stuffy. The situation was worsened by the location of the facility – partly underground. Moreover, the floor and walls were humid from water infiltrations from the sewage system nearby. The management of the facility admitted that detention conditions were inappropriate and said that several attempts were made to close the Center, without results. Nor was the re-organization of the space possible, because the structure of the building would not allow it. The Romanian General Police Inspectorate said that a lack of financial resources was the main reason why the center had not been moved to another location. The management said that another solution was to apply for European funds to build a new facility.
Video cameras were installed on the corridors; the management said video surveillance was used to prevent or witness potential incidents, although there had been no such cases in a long time; they also said that cameras would have been useful in the hunger strike rooms and in other special cases. Footage was stored for 30 days.
At CPAD Cluj, detainees were chained, as a rule, every time they were taken outside the facility, with some exceptions in the case of minors (depending on their behavior and the crime they were charged with). The management said that the understaffing made it necessary to use handcuffs as a rule. For instance, minors who suffered from mental conditions were handcuffed; 3 of the 4 minors detained at CPAD Cluj at the time of the visit were registered as mental patients.
Population, personnel, detention spaces
At the time of the visit, the facility held both persons under preventive arrest (27 detainees of whom 4 male minors and one woman) and persons serving definitive sentences (8 detainees) transferred from the Baia Mare Penitentiary for a limited time, in order to be taken before the court.
CPAD Cluj had 27 detention rooms, some of them measuring about 12 square meters, equipped with 4 beds each, some 9 square meters, and some about 4 square meters, with two double bunk beds. Overcrowding in detention rooms was another major problem at CPAD Cluj, where the occupation rate was around 200% .
The Cluj Police Inspectorate building had its own heating system, so the custody facility was sufficiently heated in winter. Hot water was available twice a week. The facility also had 10 exercise yards, each measuring 10 square meters, with no equipment for sports or other activities. The detainees were taken out for exercise for one hour every day.
The management said that the facility was understaffed but did not provide the exact number of CPAD staff members. A policewoman was employed to deal with female detainees; if she was not at work when female detainees were brought in, a female worker of the Cluj Police Inspectorate was called in to perform the body search.
The medical ward of the facility was a small room without any standard equipment. The facility did not employ a doctor; the GP who saw the patients worked for IPJ Cluj. However, he did come down to the facility as often as needed and even granted emergency examinations outside his work schedule.
The chief of the facility said that there had been no recent cases of serious illness and no detainees listed as drug users. Nor was it possible to provide substitute treatment in case a person under arrest declared he/she was a drug user. According to Law no. 275/2006 and Order no. 1216/2006, substitute treatment needs to be provided during arrest as well, but MoI Order no. 988/2005 approving the Regulations for the organization and functioning of preventive arrest and detention facilities, still used in police custody facilities, despite the fact that it has not been updated to include the new legislation, does not provide the express obligation to grant substitution treatment, the general option being to prohibit it. APADOR-CH asks the General Police Inspectorate, once again, to solve this legal discrepancy, so that the rights of persons under arrest may be observed.
When someone arrived at the facility with visible signs of violence, he was examined by the IJP Cluj doctors. The victim was asked to sign a minute, mentioning if he/she was physically abused. Then, either the doctor notified the prosecutor about the signs of violence he found or the arrestee was taken to the Forensic Institute. The chief of the facility said that, in an incident 4 years earlier, an agent was fired after violent behavior against an arrestee.
Two psychologists worked at the facility, but there was no special space equipped for their meetings with the detainees. The rule was for detainees to expressly ask for psychological counseling in the statement they signed upon arrival. Otherwise, the management or the GP could ask for an examination at a local hospital if the behavior of a detainee showed signs of mental distress.
Food came from Gherla Penitentiary and meals were served in the rooms. The facility had two refrigerators where detainees were allowed to keep the food they received or bought. Every Wednesday, they could do the shopping by making a list of what they needed and handing it to the facility staff, who went to local shops to procure the items.
The visit to the rooms
The majority of the 27 rooms were located in sectors B and C. Only one room in sector A was occupied: it held the only female detainee.
Detention rooms were not provided with lavatories or toilets. The two common lavatories were located on the corridor (one with Turkish toilet cabins, the other one with the showers). Both were insalubrious, with dirty and mouldy walls. The toilets and showers were rusty, unclean and smelly. The stench of urine and feces could be felt all over the building. A toilet cabin, separated by the others by a wall, was reserved for the staff. Since the lavatories were on the corridor, detainees had to notify each time they needed to use the toilet and had to be accompanied by members of the staff. The management said that there were fewer staff after 16.00, so moving around was a risk for the safety of the whole facility. The Association considers that the appalling state of the lavatories and the fact that detainees depend on security agents for their physiological needs is tantamount to degrading treatment.
In sector C, the representatives of APADOR-CH visited one of the small rooms, which was empty at the moment. It contained two double bunk beds and an improvised table, fixed in the wall. The door was about 1.5 meters high, the room had no windows and no light inside. The only source of light was a bulb on the corridor, in front of the door. The metal blind was half open and the light of the bulb barely lit the room. All rooms, including the slightly larger ones, were in the same state. The absence of a light source is obviously a violation of minimal national and international standards . The mattresses were in a very bad state – old, soiled and uneven. The next room, also very small (about 4 square meters) had 3 beds, one of which was a double bunk. The three detainees said that food was terrible and they mostly ate what they received from home or bought themselves. They said they rarely received any sanitary items and they were not taken to the toilet every time they asked, sometimes having to urinate in plastic bottles. The beds were old and in bad shape, the floor was covered in cigarette bits, indicating the room had not been cleaned in a long time.
In sector B, the representatives of the Association also visited some of the rooms. In room 8, measuring about 12 square meters, there were four beds (two double bunks), all of them occupied. The light bulb outside barely lit the room. The alert system, like everywhere else, was to knock at the door.
In sector A, only one woman was held in one of the rooms. Until recently, she had also had a room mate who was then transferred to a penitentiary. The detainee complained that she had no activity whatsoever except the one hour of exercise per day and that she had no one to speak to. She had been seen by a psychiatrist several times and she claimed that only by autosuggestion did she manage to keep her head straight.
At the time of the visit, CPAD Cluj was registered as holding three minors, but they had been taken to Turda for investigations. Their rooms were in as bad a state as all the rest.
Correspondence, the liaison judge, other rights
Detainees had the right to make one phone call per week, for 10 minutes, and speak limitlessly to their attorneys. They had to pay for phone cards themselves. The phones were on the corridor.
The mailbox was also on the corridor and all detainees had free access to it. Mail was collected every day and only incoming mail was registered. There were no paper and envelopes available. In order to compensate the need, the agents provided writing materials from their own resources.
Discussions with lawyers and visits took place in the search room. The room was curtained during the searches and had a table and chairs for meetings. Surveillance was strictly visual.
The liaison judge was also employed at the Gherla Penitentiary and came to the facility upon request, usually in order to deal with various complaints. The management said that most complaints were cases of hunger strike.
Conclusions and recommendations
Detention conditions found at CPAD Cluj were in many ways against international standards recommended to Romania by the European committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. CPAD Cluj was overcrowded. Rooms had no airing and no natural or artificial lighting. Furniture items were decayed, rooms were dirty and exhaled a pungent smell, poisoning the already stuffy air. The stench of mould and urine coming from the lavatories and the plumbing system could be felt all over the facility. The management said that there were frequent cases when the water from the basement overflowed into the facility, and as a result the base of the walls was always wet.
All these elements indicated that detainees here were submitted to a degrading treatment throughout their stay at CPAD Cluj. Under such circumstances, the social reinsertion aspect that should go along with deprivation of freedom is impossible to pursue. Some of the persons held here had no court sentences against them and should be granted the benefit of the doubt .
APADOR-CH asks for CPAD Cluj to be immediately closed, since there is no realistic solution in sight for its refurbishment so as to observe detention standards provided bydomestic and international regulations.