*Hundreds of convicts are protesting in penitentiaries throughout the country, asking for better living conditions
Convicts from several penitentiaries throughout the country have been protesting for several days now against prison conditions that they consider inhumane. The riots started several days ago and gradually spread to several penitentiaries in several counties. On Monday, convicts in Iasi organised a protest after their cable TV was suspended. On Tuesday, a prison cell was set alight at the penitentiary in Iasi.
Likewise, there were riots at the penitentiary in Arad and the intervention of SASS (Special Security Services) troops was needed to restore calm.
Convicts rioted at the penitentiary in Botosani too, their riots continuing on Wednesday. Several of them climbed on top of the roof and shouted anti-judiciary slogans, according to Botosani Express.
The National Penitentiary Administration announced in a communique on Wednesday that convicts from 8 of the 45 penitentiaries in Romania – Iasi, Poarta Alba, Botosani, Oradea, Miercurea Ciuc, Giurgiu, Vaslui and Braila – protested against prison conditions. Their main dissatisfactions have to do with overcrowding, aspects related to their involvement in labour and educational activities, the TV programme, medical services, reduction of sentences and the deadlines set by parole commissions.
According to the NPA, convicts from Bucharest’s Rahova Penitentiary joined the protest on Wednesday and refused their meals. 480 convicts refused their meals at the Iasi Penitentiary, 50 at the Poarta Alba penitentiary, while in Botosani “the convicts expressed their dissatisfaction by banging on prison bars, 8 convicts climbed on top of a penitentiary section, 43 convicts refused their meals, penitentiary staff was put on alert and support from the Botosani Civil Emergencies Inspectorate was requested.”
5 convicts refused their meals at the penitentiary in Oradea, 81 at the penitentiary in Miercurea Ciuc, 1 at the penitentiary in Giurgiu, 43 at the penitentiary in Vaslui and 9 at the penitentiary in Braila.
Minister Pruna: The attempt to remedy the situation in penitentiaries is a priority of my tenure
On Wednesday, Minister Raluca Pruna had a first official reaction to the penitentiary protests. She stated that the situation is “a systemic and serious one, lasting for well over 20 years.”
“The continuation and escalation of these tensions serves no one. I assure those in detention that we are working on identifying solutions. There is a responsibility on the part of the whole society. The escalation of these tensions will not generate the adoption of measures. I, as a minister, will not adopt any measure under pressure,” the minister said.
“I’ve stated that the attempt to remedy the situation in penitentiaries is a priority of my tenure. In November 2015, I inherited a collection of documents, not concrete measures. The problems are not foreign to me,” the Justice Minister added.
“I want to assure those in detention that they are not foreign to me at all – the overcrowding, the food, the access to labour and these persons’ social reintegration. (…) I made a public promise and I promised those in penitentiaries that I will focus on the arrears – I emphasise, the arrears – in this domain,” Pruna added.