CoE anti-torture committee: Informal prisoner hierarchy in Moldovan prison system flourished into a profit-oriented criminal enterprise

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16:12, 13 Dec 2018

CoE anti-torture committee: Informal prisoner hierarchy in Moldovan prison system flourished into a profit-oriented criminal enterprise

The Council of Europe anti-torture committee (CPT) expresses its concern that, as a remnant from the Soviet past, the phenomenon of an informal prisoner hierarchy in the Moldovan prison system has flourished into a profit-oriented criminal enterprise. Moreover, it is not evident that the relevant authorities fully appreciate the extent of the problem, nor do they seem to be aware of the grave consequences which informal prisoner hierarchies may have on the entire prison system, and indeed society as a whole, says a report published on December 13, 2018, IPN reports.

During a CPT’s visit the country from 5 to 11 June 2018, the delegation noted that attempts were made in the establishments visited, with varying degrees of success, to address this deep-rooted problem. At Goian Prison for Juveniles in particular genuine efforts were being undertaken to develop positive relationships between staff and juveniles and to ensure that no prisoner was in a position to exercise power over other inmates. Material conditions at Goian Prison for Juveniles remained generally satisfactory, and the construction of a new remand facility for juveniles at Goian was well advanced.

However, the visit brought to light that, at Chisinau and Soroca Prisons, the root causes of the problem were far from being addressed and that these establishments still largely failed to provide for the most basic requirement of prisoners: a safe environment. Acts of inter-prisoner violence, intimidation and exploitation continued to prevail, which were a direct result of the existence of informal power structures among inmates. A considerable number of prisoners in these establishments continued to be held under conditions which could easily be considered as inhuman and degrading.

In the CPT’s view, it is high time that the Moldovan authorities took determined action throughout the prison system to guarantee the security and safety of prisoners. In particular, this will require putting an end to the reliance on the informal prisoner hierarchy to maintain good order in prisons, putting in place a system of appropriate distribution and classification of prisoners, setting up an effective recruitment and training system for prison staff and ensuring continuous staff supervision in detention areas, notes the report.

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