Justice Minister Tudorel Toader states that, in his opinion, the drop in the number of convicts in penitentiaries is not due so much to the adoption of the compensatory appeal law as it is to the amending of the Criminal Code in 2014, which brought about “a criminal law with a strong emphasis on prevention, on the re-education and social reintegration of those who committed offences.”
“I have been told that the penitentiary population is on a downward trend, but in my opinion and conviction this is not due so much to the fact that the compensatory appeal law was adopted. I believe it is due primarily to the way in which the criminal lawmaker has changed the criminal policy for the prevention and countering of the criminal phenomenon, namely by moving away from the Criminal Code of 1968, with many amendments, until February 2014, which was a preponderantly repressive criminal policy featuring high punishments. The new Criminal Code of February 2014 has adopted a criminal policy with a strong emphasis on prevention, on the re-education and social reintegration of those who committed offences,” Tudorel Toader stated on Thursday at the activity review of the National Penitentiary Administration (ANP).
Tudorel Toader stated that he “estimates” that most of those who have benefitted from early release on the basis of the compensatory appeal went through “the filter of the court, through parole,” and only a small part benefitted from compensatory appeal by reaching the fixed time by calculating six days served for every 30 days of detention.
Invoking the data presented by the ANP, the Justice Minister added that 5.02 percent of those released based on the compensatory appeal have become repeat offenders.
“I emphasise this aspect, because inappropriate claims have appeared in the public space, in the sense that most of the beneficiaries of the compensatory appeal law have [allegedly] returned to the penitentiaries,” Tudorel Toader said.
“Legislative act on paying damages to convicts who served time in improper detention conditions is in the works”
He also announced that a legislative act is in the works, concerning the paying of damages to convicts who served time in improper detention conditions, only those convicts who have turned to the ECHR within the legal 6-month period being set to receive the sums paid as damages for each day of detention. The level of these sums will be established in line with the practice seen in other European countries.
“There is a general rule that says that any legislative act that is adopted must also foresee the financial impact. So we will have to see how many convicts have stayed in improper conditions, what the financial impact is, we will have to establish a sum that the ECHR would consider an effective remedy, we will have to relate to what other states that had a similar problem decided, and I mentioned Italy which paid 8 euro per day, Hungary which paid 5 euro per day. It does not mean we will automatically follow Italy or Hungary’s model, but a reasonable sum that would represent a remedy is needed, I repeat, an effective remedy. If the sum is high, we could consider paying it in instalments too,” Tudorel Toader stated on Thursday, at the end of the presentation of ANP’s activity review.
The Justice Minister said that, at this moment, without having exact data, he cannot name a sum that would be paid in damages to convicts who served time in improper detention conditions. However, he pointed out that he recently received from the ECHR an infogram which specifies “possible solutions,” and that he has demanded the drafting of a legislative act on this topic.
“I have tasked the Justice Ministry’s Drafting Department. Yesterday, they presented the bill to me. I will read it, I will see to what extent it answers the ECHR’s coordinates, I will finalise it and I will personally go to the ECHR to have a preliminary discussion, in order to be on the right track,” the minister said.
Asked whether only those convicts who have already turned toward the ECHR will be paid damages, Tudorel Toader said: “you cannot pay someone who has not complained, has not demanded the payment of damages, within the legal deadline.”