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UN torture prevention experts urge Romania to tackle prison overcrowding

GENEVA / BUCHAREST (12 May 2016) – Romania has made progress in improving conditions of detention in the country but much remains to be done, including reducing overcrowding in prisons and other places where people are deprived of their liberty, UN experts have said.

The comments came at the end of a visit to Romania by the UN Subcommittee for Prevention of Torture (SPT), when a four-member delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to the Romanian authorities on how to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“We appreciate the efforts Romania has made and we trust that the continued and increased use of alternatives to detention will continue to have an impact on the number of pre-trial detainees,” said delegation head Aisha Shujune Muhammad.

“The situation of detained people belonging to vulnerable groups, including children, young people aged 18 to 21, women, persons with mental and physical disabilities, elderly people and those from minorities requires very close attention and protection measures,” she noted.

The SPT monitors how States that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) are meeting their treaty obligations, including establishing an independent monitoring body known as a National Preventive Mechanism.

“We believe that an independent and well-resourced National Preventive Mechanism is crucial to ensure that effective safeguards and mechanisms to prevent torture and ill-treatment are in place,” Ms. Muhammad said.

During their visit, the experts visited various places of deprivation of liberty including prisons, pre-trial detention and police centres, centres for migrants, border police, social care institutions and institutions for mental health patients. They also held discussion with Government officials, the People’s Advocate National Preventive Mechanism, and representatives from civil society.

“We hope that this visit is just the beginning of continued and constructive engagement between the SPT, Romania and its designated national preventive mechanism,” Ms. Muhammad concluded.

The SPT delegation was in Romania from 3 to 12 May and comprised: Ms. Aisha Shujune Muhammad, Ms. Suzanne Jabbour, Mr. Milos Jankovic, and Ms. Margret Osterfeld.

Romania ratified the Optional Protocol in July 2009.

ENDS

For more information, please contact:
In Geneva: Liz Throssell, +41 (0) 22 917 9466/ +41 79 752 0488 / ethrossell@ohchr.org
In Romania: Aisha Shujune Muhammad - shujune@gmail.com

Background:

The Optional Protocol on the Prevention of Torture has to date been ratified by 81 countries. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to the State by means of a confidential report, and if necessary to National Preventive Mechanisms. However, State parties are encouraged to request that the SPT makes these reports public. More about the SPT: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx

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