Two representatives of APADOR-CH visited the Detention and Preventive Arrest Center no. 12, attached to the regional Railway Police Station on September 11, 2012. The center holds male minors and young detainees (18-21) without health problems.
The procedures still used at the Detention and Preventive Arrest Center no. 12 are in contradiction with Law no. 275/2006 and violate the rights of detainees. For instance, registering mail both received and sent, including information on the sender/receiver. The confidentiality of conversations between detainees and their solicitors is not ensured, because the venue of these meetings – an office – is not furbished to allow visual observation only. The door remains open at all times, while the guard stands in the doorway, therefore listening to everything said there.
Handcuffing is a rule for every detainee that leaves the premises, not an exception as Law no. 275/2006 provides. The most frequent justification for the regular use of handcuffs is the suspicion that all detainees have the intention to escape – exactly the exception provided by Law no. 275/2006. Of course, it is a mere pretext to make the work of the escorting guards easier. Escapes are rare and in general they are related to the negligence of the police escorts, not to handcuffing. APADOR-CH insists that this degrading – and sometimes inhuman – treatment be abandoned, as a rule, and only used in exceptional cases.
Detention space, population
On the day of the visit, the Detention and Preventive Arrest Center no. 12 held a number of 14 minors and young detainees (13 young detainees, one underage).
Two of the youths were here on their way to the penitentiary. Regarding the duration of preventive arrest, the management said it never lasted more than two months. The facility had 20 beds in five rooms, of which only four were occupied.
The representatives of APADOR-CH visited all five rooms. They measured about 12 square meters each, including the lavatory. Only one of the rooms had all 4 beds occupied. APADOR-CH reminds that the Committee for the Prevention of Torture recommended at least 4 square meters of space per detainee, both in police custody facilities and in prisons. But in the room that was fully occupied, each detainee had less than 3 square meters of space, which is tantamount to overcrowding. Detainees said they never had to share heir beds. The windows had thick metal nets on the inside, the glass panes and bars on the outside. Natural light was scarce, so the light stayed on during the day. Lights could only be turned off from outside the cell, from the corridor. Windows could only be opened from the outside, by police agents. It was commendable that the facility had a properly working ventilation system. The sound alert system was out of order at the time of the visit, so detainees knocked on their doors to alert the guards.
Center no. 12 had a special room for body searching detainees when they are brought in. The money and personal belongings were kept in a safe, alongside a list of all the items withheld.
Each room had its own lavatory, including a Turkish toilet, a sink and a shower. The cabins had curtains to ensure intimacy. A commendable fact was that hot water was available around the clock. Detainees were only provided with a bed, bed linen, a pillow and a blanket. The staff said there was a washing machine for the detainees’ laundry. Other items, like soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, razors, had to be brought by the detainees. Razors were kept in separate boxes for each detainee, in the guards’ office. A hairdresser came in twice a month to cut their hair.
The food provided to the detainees was brought in from the Rahova Penitentiary. The representatives of APADOR-CH visited the room where detainees keep their own food in fridges. The fridges were all working, and each room had a separate compartment in one of them. The young men held at Detention and Preventive Arrest Center no. 12 said they ate both what their families brought in for them and what the Center provided and that they were satisfied with the quality of the food.
Activities, correspondence, contacts with the outside, other rights
The facility had an exercise yard of about 20 square meters where the minors/youths could not do anything other than stand or take a few steps. Both detainees and guards said that the yard was used every day, for one or two hours.
The Center did not have a “club” facility and did not run any activity program. A treadmill was on the corridor, but out of order. The staff said that there were some TV sets which could be used in the rooms, but the protection boxes were broken. A few shelves with books were available on the corridor, if the detainees wanted to take to their rooms to read.
The mailbox was on the corridor and the letters were posted by detainees themselves. Both upon departure and upon arrival, the destination/sender was registered. The practice was at least strange because, upon sending a letter, the detainee had first to step into the guards’ office and have the name of the receiver written down and only then to place the letter in the mailbox. APADOR-CH maintains that, this way, the right to correspondence is restricted and asks the management of the center to justify such a practice. The phone was also on the corridor. The detainees were watched as they spoke, so they had no confidentiality. Phone cards were provided by their families. Detainees were allowed at least one phone call per week, usually on Mondays, but if necessary they were allowed more. Each detainee had to provide a list of the numbers they used; phone calls to attorneys were unlimited.
The facility had video cameras installed on the corridor. APADOR-CH suggests that cameras should also be installed in investigation rooms. That way, the number of complaints, justified or not, about ill treatments from police agents during investigations, would be bound to decrease.
Detainees were allowed eight visits per month from family and friends and an unlimited number of visits from their solicitors. The inconvenience was that all visits took place in the same office, where visual supervision was not possible, so there was no confidentiality of conversations. APADOR-CH points out to the facility management that this is a violation of Law no. 275/2006 and recommends that a transparent door should be installed, so that supervision may be exclusively visual. The parcels brought in by visitors were opened and verified by agents in the presence of detainees.
As for the liaison judge, his phone number was posted on the corridor, alongside other numbers of general interest. The staff said that the detainees were aware of their right to call the liaison judge because they received a list of rights and obligations upon their arrival at the Center. The liaison judge only came in upon request. The staff said he had not been there for a long time, because there hadn’t been any solicitations or situations to require his presence.
The staff of the facility said that, depending on the necessity, the doctor was called in, detainees were sent to the medical ward or they called 112.
Persons who were drug addicts upon arrest, stayed at Detention and Preventive Arrest Center no. 1 to be treated and were only afterwards transferred to Center no. 12.
The staff said that none of the detainees had any health problems at the time of the visit. There was no possibility for detainees to access any HIV/AIDS or other infectious disease prevention programs. No condoms were distributed. No methadone substitution program was available in case of need. The General Police Inspectorate does not accept drug substitution treatment, despite it being explicitly provided by the law.
The representatives of APADOR-CH talked to all the detainees at the center, who said they had no complaints about the quality of food or detention conditions and that they were taken to the exercise yard every day. They had no complaints either about the behavior of the agents or other rights, including correspondence or visits.
Conclusions and recommendations:
- The Association asks for a glass door to be installed in the visit room, so that supervision may be exclusively visual;
- APADOR-CH considers that the practice of writing down the names of addressees and senders of letters should be ceased, lest it should discourage detainees to exercise their right to correspondence;
- The Association asks the center to abandon the practice of handcuffing detainees every time they leave the premises and use restraining only when absolutely necessary.
Other conclusions and recommendations have been included in the report.
Maria-Nicoleta Andreescu Doina-Adelina Boboşatu