Human rights judges have demanded improvements to Romania’s prison system and say the authorities must compensate convicts who have suffered poor detention conditions.
The ruling follows a 24 May judgment in the case of Iacov Stanciu v. Romania (application no. 35972/05). Although the decision is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The applicant, Iacov Stanciu, is a Romanian national who was born in 1977 and lives in Bucharest. Sentenced to 12 years and 6 months’ imprisonment in September 2002, he was detained in seven detention facilities between his arrest in January 2002 and his release on probation in May 2011. His complaint concerns the detention conditions in four of them: Ploieşti Prison, Jilava Prison and its hospital, Mărgineni Prison, and Rahova Prison and its hospital.
According to Stanciu, he was kept in overcrowded cells, lacking hygiene and proper nutrition, without enough out-of-cell time and appropriate activities. In particular, during long periods of his detention, he had to share a bed with another inmate and there was no hot water available in the cells, which were infested with insects and/or rats. Stanciu was bitten by a rat during his imprisonment.
The Court found, taking into account the cumulative effect of those shortcomings, that the prison conditions to which Stanciu had been exposed had amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment.
Judges decided that Romania should pay Stanciu 20,000 euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage and EUR 4,800 in respect of costs and expenses.
In its ruling, the Court pointed out that Stanciu’s case reflected a common problem in Romanian prisons and that, despite efforts to improve the situation, Romania had to take further steps, including a compensation scheme. There are 80 similar applications against Romania concerning this issue currently pending before the Court.