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

Tuesday - 19 November 2013
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Two representatives of APADOR-CH visited the Center for Preventive Arrest and Detention (CPAD) attached to theTulcea County Police Inspectorate on November 19, 2013.

 

Population, personnel, detention spaces, furbishing

 

At the time of the visit, CPAD Tulcea held seven detainees, all of them male. Six of them were on preventive arrest and one was convicted, but hadnh’t been able to produce any papers at the time of his arrest and therefore had to be kept at the facility until his documents were issued. Persons who talked to the representatives of APADOR-CH had only been under arrest for a few days. Detainees usually spent no more than a few days at the CPAD and never more than a month, even when they didn’t have any papers, said the chief of the facility.

 

The staff consisted of 15 agents, among whom one woman. The female agent dealt exclusively with female detainees and did desk work when there were none present. A doctor and a nurse, employed by the Medical Center of the Ministry of Interior, performed a medical examination of detainees upon their arrival at the facility and provided medical care during detention. They did not only attend to the detainees, but also to the staff of the County Police Inspectorate, as their family doctors. If detainees presented traces of violence (or claimed to have been hurt), the fact was mentioned in their detention record. The doctor who replaced the MoI doctor on the day of the visit thought that detainees and members of the staff should be treated by different doctors, because doctors were not paid by the number of patients and therefore had to ensure permanent care for detainees without being paid accordingly.

 

A psychologist was employed to counsel both members of the staff and detainees, but she had been on maternal leave with her second child for more than 2 years. If required, a psychologist from Constanta was brought in for emergencies. The detainees who talked to the representatives of APADOR-CH did not seem to be aware that a psychologist was available. However, one personal file included a minute signed by the detainee stating that he had been informed that he could ask for psychological counseling if he felt it necessary. APADOR-CH points out that it is important to inform detainees about their rights and available services in a simple, accessible language. A mere signature on various documents presented in a highly emotional moment (when a person is arrested) may leave legal provisions devoid of content.

 

Detainees did not have any activity except for the daily exercise time in the yard and visits to the club, where they could watch TV. There was no pre-established schedule for access to the club.

 

The facility was located in the semi-basement of a Tulcea Inspectorate building. Detention spaces included 9 rooms of about 12 square meters each, with a total capacity of 27 beds. In 2006 and 2007, 5 of the 9 rooms were renovated. None of the rooms had lavatories or storage spaces – a serious deficiency, because detainees who depended on others for their physiological needs were placed in a humiliating position. Moreover, after the 10 p.m. lights off, detainees could no longer go to the bathroom because the guards locked the doors and left them with buckets to use instead. APADOR-CH points out that a person who must appeal to a guard’s benevolence in order to use the bathroom is placed in a humiliating position and that the impossibility of using the lavatories at night, having to use buckets instead, is, according to ECHR jurisprudence, tantamount to degrading treatment.

 

The representatives of the Association visited both types of rooms (renovated or not), as well as lavatories and shower rooms. The renovated rooms were generally clean, although the paint on the walls was already peeling off here and there; they had insulated windows, wooden floors and three beds each, but no other piece of furniture whatsoever. The remarkable thing in the rooms were the beds, very low and frail. The renovated area was separated from the un-renovated one by a thermopane door that remained closed. In the un-renovated area, a smell of mold and dampness made the air hardly breathable. The windows could only be opened from outside, if the guards wished. The four un-renovated rooms had window frames in an advanced state of decay and parts of glass panes missing, dirty and damp walls, with peeling paint and covered in mold. These rooms, too, had three beds each. Natural light was faint, because of the small windows were doubled by wire mesh and bars. Windows could only be opened from the outside, depending on the benevolence of the supervisors.

 

The mattresses throughout the facility were old and extremely worn out.

 

The shower rooms for detainees consisted of two dirty shower taps placed in an inadequate location, while the only toilet cabin (Turkish style) was dirty, producing a pestilential stench that could also be felt on the corridor of the un-renovated area. Detainees took a shower upon their arrival and every time the chief of the facility noted they smelled inappropriately (!). There was no fixed schedule for shower. Near the toilet, the ceiling was damp from the toilet sewage pipes upstairs and the smell was unbearable.

 

The CPAD rarely provided persons under arrest with soap and toilet paper. Bedding was the only thing provided.

 

The building had no video surveillance system on the corridors. Detention rooms were provided with audio systems (intercom) that were out of order. Whenever a detainee wanted to use the bathroom or communicate with the guards, he needed to pound on the door, loudly, in order to be heard. Since the rooms were located along a single corridor divided by a closed door, it was almost impossible for the guard placed at one end to hear the pounding from the room near the lavatory, on the other end.

 

The facility had only one exercise yard, rather small (5×5 m) and completely unequipped, covered with wire mesh but unprotected from rain or snow. The detainees were allowed to spend 30 minutes -1 hour per day in the yard, as they could at the club – a room with a TV set. Another room, marked as “Hairdresser’s”, apparently served no purpose, being filled with old fingerprinting and ID machines, but no trace of tools for a haircut. None of the detention rooms had a TV, because there were no electricity sockets, but they had speakers broadcasting music from a radio station selected by the agents.

 

 

Food for detainees

 

The food for detainees held at CPAD Tulcea was prepared and delivered by the Tulcea Penitentiary. Persons who talked to the representatives of APADOR-CH said that the food was acceptable. Detainees were allowed to receive food parcels from visiting relatives. They could also buy food stuff, by making a list and handing it out to the supervisor. The facility had a kitchen where kitchenware was kept and food was portioned, and where detainees could store and heat up food (it had a fridge, a microwave oven and an electric stove).

 

Contacts with the outside, other procedures in use at the Tulcea custody facility

 

The visitation sector was organized in a room outside the facility, close to the chief’s office. The same room was used for meetings with legal representatives. The agents were inside the room during all types of meetings, as confirmed both by detainees and by one of the agents – which was sure to impede upon the privacy of personal encounters and upon the confidentiality of the relation with the defense lawyers. The chief of the facility tried to convince the representatives of the Association that the agents actually remained outside the room and supervised meetings only visually, but his statement was not confirmed by any other person, either detainee or employee. Each detainee could receive the visit of maximum 4 persons at a time (two adults and two minors).

 

The facility did not have a room for body searches, so the procedure took place in the access hall, in front of the supervisor’s office.

 

The facility did not provide paper, envelopes or stamps for detainees who wanted to exercise the right to freedom of correspondence but could not afford it. The employees of the facility claimed that the unit had no obligation to cover the costs produced by the exercise of this right for detainees who had no pecuniary means. The Association points out that failing to observe Article 46, par. 5 of Law no. 275/2006 (also applicable in police custody facilities) represents a violation of the right to freedom of correspondence. The law expressly provides that: “The spending caused by the exercise of the right to petition and to freedom of correspondence fall under the responsibility of persons serving custodial sentences. If the persons in cause lack the means to exercise their right to petition legal bodies, courts or international bodies whose competence is accepted or recognized by Romania, as well as their right to correspond with their families, their defenders and human rights NGOs, the costs of correspondence will be covered by the penitentiary”.

 

The phone booth and the mail box were located inside the facility, on the corridor, close to the supervisor’s office. Detainees were allowed to phone their family or lawyers freely as long as they had hone cards (ROMTELECOM cards, bought and brought in by visitors). Both detainees and agents confirmed that for about two weeks, these cards had been impossible to find in Tulcea and as a result, the phone could no longer be used. The payphone had no booth or other type of protection to assure the confidentiality of conversations and was placed very close to the supervisor’s usual watch spot. APADOR-CH considers that the right of detainees to confidential phone calls was not observed at CPAD Tulcea and the lack of phone cards was a breach of their right to communicate with the outside.

 

The liaison judge

 

The name and contact number of the liaison judge, the same person who was also in charge with the Tulcea Penitentiary, was posted on the wall of the supervisors’ office, next to the interior regulations. The existence and role of the liaison judge were completely unknown to the detainees. This was confirmed by the chief of the facility, who said that he had no obligation to inform detainees about the attributions of the judge, but merely to post his contact information.

 

 

Conclusions and recommendations:

 

  • The Association asks for steps to be taken so that every room may have its own lavatory;
  • APADOR-CH asks for the 5 un-renovated room to be refurbished: painted, new doors/windows, cleaned and with reorganized/modernized shower-room;
  • The Association recommends the reorganization of the visitation sector, by the creation of a space that would ensure the confidentiality of meetings with lawyers and of discussions with the families;
  • The Association recommends that the place dubbed “Hairdresser’s
     should be turned into a search room, to allow for discretion during the search of new arrivals at the facility;
  • APADOR-CH asks for the budget to include the purchase of paper, envelopes and stamps, so that detainees who cannot afford them are still able to exercise their right to petition and correspondence;
  • The Association recommends for a solution to be found, together with the phone operator, to ensure the necessary phone cards; otherwise, another operator should be contacted and a new phone contract should be signed, in order to observe the right of detainees to make phone calls.

   

 

Other conclusions and recommendations have been included in the report.

 

 

Nicoleta Popescu                                                                  Adelina Boboşatu