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Romania: Convict’s tooth torment spurs human rights complaint

A Romanian convict says he lost most of his teeth because prison authorities failed to respond adequately to his severe dental problems.

Adrian Drăgan, currently detained in Giurgiu Prison, brought the complaint again Romania in protest at his jail conditions. The European Court of Human Rights will deliver its judgement on the case tomorrow (2 February).

Drăgan hopes that Strasbourg judges will accept his allegations that he suffered “unbearable toothache” and constant pain brought on by periodontitis, due to inadequate medical care and lack of a suitable liquid diet, which he says, amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment under European human rights law.

Drăgan alleges that, as a result of never having been given a dental prosthesis or an appropriate diet (despite the doctor’s recommendation in 2009), he has lost almost 70% of his teeth.

Background : Drăgan v. Romania (no. 65158/09)

The case essentially concerns a prisoner’s complaint about his detention conditions and the lack of a suitable diet for his dental problems.

The applicant, Adrian Drăgan, is a stateless person who was born in 1956 and is currently detained in Giurgiu Prison (Romania).

Convicted several times over the last nine years, notably of robbery and theft in November 2007, Drăgan has been detained in various prisons in Romania, including for a period of one year and three months in Galati, Rahova and Jilava prisons.

During his detention in those prisons he lodged numerous complaints with the prison authorities or the post-sentencing judge to complain about overcrowding, the poor quality of the drinking water, poor and insufficient food and the failure to provide him with toiletries and clothes so as to maintain adequate personal hygiene.

All his complaints were rejected as ill-founded. Diagnosed with periodontitis in July 2009 and prescribed a dental prosthesis, he subsequently also alerted the authorities on numerous occasions about his dental problems.

He notably lodged complaints with the authorities on a number of occasions between 2009 and 2013 to complain that his dental problems were so severe that he could not eat the food served in prison and that he was not receiving the liquid and semi-liquid diet prescribed to him by a doctor.

All these requests were rejected as ill-founded. He also complained on five other occasions in 2013 and 2014 of unbearable toothache, requesting appropriate treatment; but the authorities’ response was that the doctor was on holiday and he would be scheduled for an appointment at a later date.

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Drăgan complains about the inadequacy of the conditions of his detention and medical treatment, as well as the lack of a suitable diet for his dental problems. He notably alleges that, as a result of never having been given a dental prosthesis or an appropriate diet (despite the doctor’s recommendation in 2009), he has had to endure constant pain and has lost almost 70% of his teeth.

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