Romania: Court gives six month deadline on detention conditions in breach of European human rights law

Detention conditions in Romanian prisons are in breach of the European human rights laws and point to a “structural deficiency,” according to Strasbourg judges.

The European court gave national authorities a six month deadline to provide “a precise timetable for the implementation of the general measures.”

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Rezmiveș and Others v. Romania (applications nos. 61467/12, 39516/13, 48213/13 and 68191/13) 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 complaint was brought by applicants Daniel Arpad Rezmiveş, Marius Mavroian, Laviniu Moşmonea and Iosif Gazsi, who are Romanian nationals.

Rezmiveş, Moşmonea and Gazsi who are currently detained in Timişoara, Pelendava and Baia Mare Prisons, and Mavroian, who was detained in Focşani Prison and was released on 13 January 2015, complained in particular about overcrowding, lack of space and poor hygiene conditions in their cells (presence of rats, mould on the walls, and so on), inadequate access to showers and toilets, a lack of natural light, poor ventilation, and the unsatisfactory quality of the equipment and food provided in the prisons in which they had been or were still detained.

As Article 41 (just satisfaction), the court held that Romania was to pay Rezmiveş and Gazsi 3,000 euros (EUR) each and Mavroian and Moşmonea EUR 5,000 each in respect of non-pecuniary damage. Romania was also required to pay Moşmonea EUR 1,850 in respect of costs and expenses.

Under Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), the court held in particular that the conditions of the applicants’ detention, also taking into account the length of their incarceration, had subjected them to hardship going beyond the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention.

Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments), the court decided to apply the pilotjudgment procedure, finding that the applicants’ situation was part of a general problem originating in a structural dysfunction specific to the Romanian prison system.

The court held that the state should introduce: (1) measures to reduce overcrowding and improve the material conditions of detention; and (2) remedies (a preventive remedy and a specific compensatory remedy).

The court decided to adjourn the examination of similar applications that had not yet been communicated to the Romanian Government and to continue its examination of applications that had already been communicated. Within six months from the date on which the judgment became final, the Romanian Government had to provide, in cooperation with the Committee of Ministers, a precise timetable for the implementation of the general measures.

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