The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has today given the Romanian state has 6 months to present a plan of measures to address overcrowding and prison conditions. The ECHR also fined Romania 17,850 euros in the case of the plaintiff Rezmives (in the “Rezvimes and others vs. Romania” case).
The latest annual statistics from the ECHR showed the first increase in the backlog of pending cases for many years, largely due to a significant number of applications concerning prison conditions in Hungary and Romania.
In the decision, the ECHR does not impose any specific measures to Romania and does not say anything about pardon or the relaxation of the laws on corruption. Moreover, in an opinion, ECHR judge Krzysztof Wojtyczek warned Romania that measures to relax the criminal policy, such as those proposed by the government, have led to massive protests in Romania.
The current governing parties have been pushing a pardoning law that would free a few thousand inmates from local prisons. The initiative has led to street protests, as some people expect the politicians to use this measure and pardon former officials sent to prison for corruption in recent years.
The ECHR ruled that Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention, which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment, has been violated.
The Romanian government has now to come up with concrete measures to fix the overcrowding and poor detention conditions in local prisons. In a similar decision ruled against the Hungarian state in 2015, the ECHR asked the Government to come up with measures in six months.
Local politicians have repeatedly claimed that the ECHR would impose financial penalties on Romania due to the poor detention conditions estimated at around EUR 80 million per year. This figure was first mentioned by former justice minister Raluca Pruna, who referred to Italy’s example. Following a similar ECHR decision in 2013, Italy decided to pay EUR 8 per day to inmates, as compensation, among other measures to improve detention conditions.