Legal Resources


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This compilation gathers the most important judgments and decisions on prison issues handed down by the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union. By reporting on the main trends in European prison case law, it aims to support legal practitioners in the prison field in their research and litigation, as well as to identify blind spots in European case law to build strategic litigation avenues.

TYURIN AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA Applications nos. 32695/14 and 8 others

Permanent video surveillance of detainees in pre-trial and post-conviction detention facilities: violation of Article 8.

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OCHIGAVA v. GEORGIA Application no. 14142/15

Applicant’s repeatedly ill-treated by prison officers as part of systematic and systemic abuse of inmates and ineffective investigation thereof: violation of Article 3 (substantive and procedural).

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TYURIN AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA Applications nos. 32695/14 and 8 others Third Section Committee  9 February 2023

Art 8
Permanent video surveillance in pre-trial and post-conviction facilities ■ Interference not “in accordance with law”

Facts The nine applicants complained mostly of the permanent video surveillance to which they were subjected in the pre-trial and post-conviction detention facilities, including in lavatory or shower rooms, and by opposite-sex operators.

Law Article 8

The Court recalled it had already established that the national legal framework in Russia governing the placement of detainees under permanent video surveillance in penal institutions breaches Article 8 of the Convention (Gorlov and Others v. Russia, nos. 27057/06 and 2 others, 2 July 2019). In particular, the Russian legal framework “cannot be regarded as being sufficiently clear, precise or detailed to have afforded appropriate protection against arbitrary interference by the authorities with the detainees’ right to respect of their private life” (§18, see also Gorlov §§ 97-98).

Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court did not find any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion.

Conclusion Violation of Article 8

Article 41 The finding of a violation constitutes sufficient just satisfaction for non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicants.

OCHIGAVA v. GEORGIA  Application no. 14142/15 Fifth Section  16 February 2023

Article 3(substantive and procedural)  Torture  Inhuman or degrading treatment  Applicant’s repeated ill-treatment by prison officers as part of systematic and systemic abuse of inmates  Lack of compensation for injuries sustained from ill-treatment  Ineffective investigation  Despite conviction of certain officers, outcome of procedurally flawed criminal proceedings not constituting sufficient redress

Facts The applicant was a prisoner at Tbilisi no. 8 prison (“the Gldani prison”). At the time of his admission, the doctor who examined him noted in his medical file that he had no injuries. Just over two years later, footage of repeated acts of ill-treatment of inmates at different prison establishments, including Gldani prison, were disseminated in the Georgian media. The applicant filed a detailed criminal complaint of repeated acts of ill-treatment by eleven identifiable prison officers. As a result of the ill-treatment, the applicant sustained serious injuries, including severe trauma to the spine, fractured fingers and broken teeth.
The applicant’s criminal case was eventually joined to an investigation into the ill-treatment of inmates at Gldani prison. Criminal proceedings ended with the conviction of seven prison officers (of the eleven named by the applicant) of the systematic ill-treatment of inmates, including the applicant. The applicant unsuccessfully brought civil proceedings against the Ministry of Prisons for compensation in respect of the harm caused to his mental and physical health by the officers.

Law Article 3 (procedural aspect)

Effective deterrence against serious acts such as intentional attacks on the physical integrity of a person required an efficient criminal-law response. In the present case, however, there had been significant deficiencies in the respondent State’s response.

Although the applicant had formally complained of ill-treatment early on, it had taken the domestic authorities more than five years to identify the perpetrators and secure convictions in relation to some of them. There had also been periods of unexplained inactivity on the part of the investigating authorities during which they had failed to conduct the most basic investigative measures repeatedly requested by the applicant. Moreover, for a significant period during the pre-trial stage the applicant had been unjustifiably denied the requisite procedural standing of an aggrieved party, standing which would have had enabled him to closely follow the investigation, assess its reliability and contribute to its proper conduct.

Furthermore, a number of serious incidents of ill-treatment had not been investigated, namely, the applicant’s alleged beatings – that which had resulted in his spinal injury and that in the shower room which had resulted in his fainting and then regaining consciousness in the prison morgue; and his alleged arbitrary placement in degrading conditions in a solitary confinement cell (a karzer) and a small detention cell (a fuks). The authorities had also turned a blind eye to the applicant’s credible allegation of complicity between the convicted officers and additional senior prison officers; the latter’s role in his ill-treatment had not been elucidated. Such an inexplicably selective approach on behalf of the investigative authorities sat ill with the respondent State’s procedural obligations under Article 3. For an investigation to be effective, its conclusions must always be based on thorough, objective and impartial analysis of all relevant elements. That obviously included conducting an adequate probe into credible allegations of criminal complicity.

Accordingly, despite the conviction of the seven prison officers, the outcome of the procedurally flawed criminal proceedings could not be considered to have constituted sufficient redress for the applicant.

Conclusion Violation of Article 3 (unanimously).

Law Article 3 (substantive aspect)

The domestic criminal courts had found that seven prison officers who had been acting in an official capacity had been guilty of the systematic ill-treatment of inmates at the prison, including the applicant. They had found that the aim of that abuse had been to instil fear, and thus to obtain the prisoners’ complete submission and therefore control. The courts had also identified five separate instances when the applicant personally had been ill-treated by being severely beaten. Their findings had made it clear that his ill-treatment, the certain acts of which qualified as torture, had been directly attributable to the respondent State and committed by representatives of the prison authority as part of both systematic and systemic abuse of inmates of the prison at the material time. Furthermore, no damages had been awarded to the applicant for the injuries he had sustained as a result of the ill-treatment.

Conclusion Violation of Article 3 (unanimously).

Article 41 EUR 20,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

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