Connect with us


Fresh concerns raised about 'deteriorating' conditions in #Romania penal system




We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Tackling “appalling” conditions in Romania’s prison system should be made a condition of the Eastern European country assuming the EU presidency in less than a years’ time, according to a former MEP.

Romania is due to assume the rotating presidency from January to June 2019, effectively putting it in charge of directing the EU for six months. Its term in office will come at one of the most critical moments in the EU’s history with the UK due to exit the bloc at the end of March 2019.

However, campaigners say that judicial and penal reforms that were required of Romania prior to its EU accession just over ten years ago “have still not been fulfilled.”

Most concern is reserved for prison conditions in the country, which have been condemned by a whole range of respected bodies including the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Romanian Ombudsman’s office, the Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania – the Helsinki Committee (APADOR-CH), and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).

The situation is so serious that some EU members, including the UK and Germany, have refused to surrender people subject to a European Arrest Warrant from Romania because of the country’s poor detention conditions.

One recent such disturbing case is that of a 33-year-old handicapped Romanian man who was extradited recently from the UK to Romania on a European Arrest Warrant.


A short time after his detention in Rahova jail the man, who has not been named, died in custody on 2 January. Rahova is a particularly notorious Romanian prison whose facilities have come to international attention after eight prison officers were arrested because of allegations that they tortured several detainees.

Dan Adamescu, 68, a millionaire businessman who owned one of Romania’s largest opposition newspapers, died in hospital on 24 January 2017 after contracting sepsis at Rahova where he was serving a four-year sentence for bribery.

Former UK MEP Nikki Sinclaire, who sat on both the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Committee On Women’s Rights And Gender Equality in the European parliament, says these and other similar cases are “cause for real concern".

She told this website that improving the situation should be a condition of  Romania assuming the EU presidency, adding: “This tragic case again highlights the need for concern about the welfare of detainees, especially those who are vulnerable, and who are extradited back to Romania, given the poor track record of the treatment of prisoners there.”

A recently released report revealed that some 88.8% of prisoners who die in Romanian jail do so as a result of a disease or illness which is directly contracted during their detention. The suicide rate among Romanian prisoners is also four times the national average.

Romania has more pending cases at the European Court of Human Rights than any other country.  The court has a staggering 9,900 pending Romanian cases, according to the ECHR which spoke in January about the fact that Romania accounts for 17.6% of the Court’s caseload.  The majority of these Romanian cases are linked to poor detention conditions in Romania’s prisons.  The ECHR’s annual report for 2017 also showed that Romania was among the countries with the highest number of judgements against them, with 55 rulings against the country in 2017.  Romania was behind Russia who received 293 such judgements, Turkey at 99 and Ukraine at 82.

Hopes were initially raised that Romania was ready to tackle the problem when the president of the ECHR, Guido Rainmondi reported that he had received a visit from Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, when Toader presented a plan to reduce the number of people in Romania’s prisons. Raimondi responded that he was “glad Toader is trying to draw the conclusions of our pilot decision in the Rezvims case.  I hope this plan will yield results.”

However, some trust has been lost between Romania and the country’s European partners over Romania’s commitment to prison reform.

In the UK, Justices at the High Court in London ruled that two Romanians could not be extradited back to Romania due to cramped conditions that contravene rulings from the ECHR.

Similar concerns have been raised in Germany.  On 31March 2017 . the German Higher Regional Court of Celle refused to surrender a person subject to a European Arrest Warrant from Romania because of the country’s poor detention conditions.

A low point came in October 2016 when Romania’s then Minister of Justice, Raluca Pruna, revealed she lied to the European Court about the allocation of almost one €1 billion for prison reforms.

Prison facilities in Romania are often old buildings which can cause many health and hygiene difficulties, including water infiltration and lack of ventilation, lack of facilities, as well as insect and parasite infestations. The oldest prison building still in use dates back to the 1850s.

Willy Fautre, director of Brussels based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers, describes the situation as “worrying”.

He points out that in 2015 alone, the ECHR delivered 72 judgments (each citing at least one violation) against Romania.

“No less than 27 of the violations in Romania were for inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners with many relating to the appalling conditions and treatment in Romanian prisons,” he said.

“Detention conditions in Romania are one of the reasons why some countries are refusing to surrender a wanted person.”

Share this article:

EU Reporter publishes articles from a variety of outside sources which express a wide range of viewpoints. The positions taken in these articles are not necessarily those of EU Reporter.