Europe rights court blasts Romania prison conditions

Ramnicu Sarat, a Communist-era prison. [Romania Dacia]

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday (25 April) took Romania to task for its dismal prison conditions, saying they could be considered inhumane and degrading.

Four Romanians had complained to the Strasbourg-based court of overcrowding in cells, unhygienic sanitary conditions, poor food and the presence of rats and insects.

ECHR judges backed their case, saying these conditions could be considered inhumane or degrading treatment — forbidden under the European Convention of Human Rights — as they had been subjected to “hardship going beyond the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention”.

EU welcomes Romania's repeal of graft decree, offers help for jails

The European Commission yesterday (16 February) welcomed as a “very good step” the decision of the Romanian government to repeal a decree that would have decriminalised graft, and offered Bucharest assistance and funds to improve the country’s prisons.

The conditions are “part of a general problem originating in a structural dysfunction specific to the Romanian prison system”, the court said, ordering the government to offer compensation over the problem and take action to make improvements.

The judges called to a halt similar Romanian cases under way in the court, saying the government would now be given time to make progress.

Bucharest will have to provide a concrete schedule for planned improvements.

Set up in 1959, the ECHR rules on cases involving alleged violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

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