A large part of cases of ill-treatment in penitentiaries are not reported, study

To make themselves heard, some of the prisoners resort to self-mutilation or even suicide. In the course of 2021 alone, there were logged at least 800 cases of self-mutilation, 31 suicide attempts and 6 cases of suicide. This fact confirms once again the seriousness of the problem and the necessity of taking urgent measures to ensure the protection of the rights of convicts, says Promo-LEX’s report “Assessment of Mechanism for Preventing and Combating Ill-Treatment in the Penitentiary System of the Republic of Moldova”. The experts said a large part of cases of ill-treatment that occur in the penitentiary system are not reported appropriately, while others, even if they are reported to the Prosecutor’s Office, are not registered and investigated. 

In a news conference staged by IPN, Promo-LEX lawyer Vadim Vieru said it goes to the assessment of the mechanism for preventing and combating cases of ill-treatment in the national penitentiary system. The activity was carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Justice. “We started to do this as a result of cases we handled and aided at Promo-LEX Association, including cases taken from the penitentiary system. We noticed that this mechanism does not work property and when persons suffer particular injuries, these are not reports. This is a violation,” stated the expert.

Nadejda Burciu, secretary of state of the Ministry of Justice, said the report presents the situation in the system, which is not really satisfactory. “We are ready to objectively analyze the situation in the penitentiary system, even if this is closed by definition, and to constructively consider solutions to the problems we experience. The report presents the current situation in seven penitentiaries of the Republic of Moldova.  The solutions and recommendations stipulated in the study match the Ministry of Justice’s priorities for the penitentiary system reform,” stated Nadejda Burciu.

Dumitru Russu, Promo-LEX jurist, said the Prosecutor General’s Office in 2014 made an order concerning the approval of the Regulations on the procedure for identifying, registering and reporting alleged cases of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment. These are designed to ensure the implementation of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights and other documents. In general, the goal of the Regulations was to create mechanism for identifying, registering, reporting and examining complaints about cases of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment. The personnel of the penitentiary system are responsible for and obliged to include specific data in the register for the receipt and transmission of complaints, reports or other information about alleged cases of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment

However, ill-treatment remains a serious problem in the Republic of Moldova. The National Administration of Penitentiaries in the second half of 2020 recorded 199 cases of use of force (against 178 in 2019) and 153 cases of use of special means (as opposed to 144 in 2019),  a 5.88% increase. The authors noted that the number of such cases has grown the past few years. Official data of the Prosecutor General’s Office for 2021 show that out of 511 complaints, criminal proceedings were instituted in 46 cases or 9%. Dumitru Russu said these data reveal the internal and external inspection bodies’ failure to report and deal with the problem. “As the cases are not appropriately monitored through this specialized register, we see that the inspection bodies do not manage to record the given problem,” said the expert. The existence of criminal subculture that violently discourages the denouncing prisoners is another identified problem. Also, the disadvantageous detention conditions for detainees who refuse to obey the internal “rules” set down by the subculture discourage cooperation with the authorities.

The report was produced with financial support from Germany, through the agency of the Embassy of Germany in Chișinău (Deutsche Botschaft Chişinău).

Note: IPN News Agency gives the right of reply to persons who consider they were touched by the news items produced based on statements of the organizers of the given news conference, including by facilitating the organization of another news conference in similar conditions.

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