The two former communist states are European champions of prison conditions. It would not be a problem, if such information were positive, but it refers to the tortures prisoners in Romania and Moldova endure. No matter what crimes they committed, prisoners endure errors of the corrupt systems on a daily basis.
Criminals in Romania have chosen to protest against the existing prison conditions. The protest began in Iasi Penitentiary and quickly spread throughout the country. On 11 June 2016, prisoners requested to improve the detention conditions.
One of the detainees in Iasi said the clash occurred because of the violence, demonstrated by the security forces.
"We started the protest because of the conditions we have in this prison. When we ask our rights to be respected, the leadership send masked men (Special Forces) to beat us. We are deprived of our right to watch TV and the food is very bad. Even now, when I’m talking to you, masked men have come upon us and beat people, they put handcuffs on us. This is abnormal. We want to have the rights that the law foresees. We don’t ask for anything, except some normal conditions of detention", the prisoner said, according to ziarulevenimentul.ro.
Several inmates refused food: 268 people from the prison in Botosani, 124 in Iasi, 2 in Poarta Alba, 3 in Oradea, 15 in Miercurea Ciuc, 1 in Giurgiu, 56 in Vaslui, 6 in Bucharest - Jilava, 68 in Tulcea, 133 in Bistrita, 6 in Deva, 27 in Aiud, 43 in Bacau, 45 in Margineni, o1 in Arad, 10 in Targu Mures.
The protest had rapidly expanded to twelve prisons in Romania. It even came to the situation where detainees burned their clothes and climbed the prison shouting "thieves". In any civilized country in the world, such actions would have caused a reaction in the society. Even if many prisoners went on hunger strike, protests were quickly extinguished by the intervention of Special Forces that beat the prisoners again.
It all started with violence on behalf of the guards and ended with their violence.
Behind the prison gates
Nobody expects the prison to look like a five star hotel, but Romanian prisoners revealed an inferno.
According to sources inside the prison in Iasi, offenders must endure a harsh regime, imposed by Marius Vulpe. It is well known that Vulpe, through his relatives, came to be a protégé of the National Penitentiary Authority.
Inhuman prison conditions made the prisoners break the silence.
"The food is very bad. They shut the doors, if you want to make a complaint, they put us on a race, threaten to kill us, if we comment or to talk to reporters. Our phones are tapped, they cut the line when we talk, they take the phones away. Everything is terrifying here, it is Vulpe’s extermination camp of Auschwitz. He is a criminal. Bugs and lice bite me, I don’t have any water. I have nothing. They cut off the water so that we buy it from their store. We want the criminal down", said the prisoner, who was recently sentenced after threatening a magistrate, according to adevarul.ro.
Every year, the European Court of Human Rights sanctions Romania for inhumane conditions in prisons. A prisoner, who wins in the ECHR proceedings against the Romanian state, earns 5,000 euros. Even if such an amount seems insignificant, annually, criminals win hundreds of lawsuits. The ECHR also considers a fine for the Romanian state, if it does not improve the conditions.
In 2013, the ECHR described the situation at Rahova Penitentiary, and then decided to award damages of 3,000 euros to a prisoner: "There was no hot water in the cell; the applicant was able to have only a cold bath without soap. There was no toilet paper. The detention conditions caused to the applicant scabies, pneumonia. He suffered from bites of lice and bed bugs, which were infected", said adevarul.ro.
In 2014, the Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania - Helsinki Committee (APADOR-CH) managed to make a report about the situation in the penitentiary of Maximum Security Iasi. Observers noted the infected prison conditions. 26 prisoners are accommodated in a room of 32 square meters, which means 1.2 square meters per detainee, including the bathroom space. There were bunk beds in three rows, and the prisoners have no place to store their belongings. Each of them sleeps on an old, mattress that is dirty and full of bugs. The same terrible conditions are in the bathroom. Two Turkish toilets should be enough for 26 inmates. Of course, the toilets are dirty and infected; the prisoners complained that sometimes rats enter the cell through the sewer.
The medical care in prison is not very good, we can even say there is no medical care at all, APADOR-CH says: "Prisoners have complained that whenever they go to the doctor, they are given just paracetamol, and they are taken to the medical center once a month only in severe cases."
Given these conditions, we should not be surprised that the European Court of Human Rights sanctions Romania.
Republic of Moldova
Coincidentally or not, the situation is identical on the other bank of the Prut, in Moldova. The two former communist sister states turned into torturers, who instead of reintegrating and rehabilitating the offenders condemns them to life imprisonment, to an environment that they will not be able to abandon.
Ombudsman Institution condemned these prison conditions, stating that there were 23 complaints that alleged acts of torture and 106 complaints about inadequate conditions of detention.
Penitentiary no.13 / source: ombudsman.md
"When the officials of the Center for Human Rights visited prison no. 13 in Chisinau, 16 detainees were placed in a cell of 33 square meters, there was approximately 2 m2 per one prisoner. This penitentiary has cells where a detainee is assigned less than 1.5 m2.
Penitentiary no.13 in Chisinau is the "champion" in inhuman and degrading conditions that the ECHR convicted (20 cases). Of the 81 cases that went to the ECHR (Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights), in 63 cases the European Court condemned our country for inhuman and degrading conditions," said ombudsman.md.
It is understandable that the two countries, eroded by poverty and corruption, will not rush to invest in prisons, or to build new ones. Only the competent institutions in the two countries do not realize that the current conditions in prisons are a torture for criminals. Even if there were protest in Romania, they have not had any results. No state has dared to start a discussion about the improvement of prison conditions. These problems are well known, but so far, there are no solutions to them. Although we often talk about rights and freedoms, we can say that these are populist discourses, full of hypocrisy and lacking solutions.