Voynov v. Russia (39747/10) – family ties / location of detention / effective remedy. The applicant complained of a breach of his right to family life due to his transfer to a detention facility located more than 4,000 kilometers from his hometown. He complained as well of the lack of effective remedies in this respect (violation of Article 8, violation of Article 13).
Vasilevskiy and Bogdanov v. Russia (nos. 52241/14 and 74222/14) – compensation for wrongful imprisonment. The applicants complained about the negligible amount of compensation they had been awarded for wrongful imprisonment (violation of Article 5 §5).
Ščensnovičius v. Lithuania (no. 62663/13) – pre-trial detention / material conditions of detention. The applicant complained of the conditions of his pre-trial detention (violation of Article 3).
Abdillla v. Malta (no. 36199/15) & Ruiz Pena and Perez Oberght v. Malta (nos. 25218/15 and 25251/15) – material conditions of detention. The applicant in the first case complained about the material conditions of his detention in the Corradino Correctional Facility and the lack of an effective remedy in this respect (no violation of Article 3, violation of Article 13 taken in conjunction with Article 3). The applicants in the second case complained about the conditions of their detention in the same facility (no violation of Article 3).
Mangîr and Others v. the Republic of Moldova and Russia (no. 50157/06) – material conditions of detention / ill-treatment. The applicants complained of their conditions of detention in the Transdniestrian region (violation of Article 3 by the Russian Federation). One applicant complained that he had been subjected to ill-treatment (violation of Article 3 by the Russian Federation). They complained about the lack of effective remedies in this respect (violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3 by the Russian Federation).
Shulmin and Others v. Russia (nos. 15918/13 and others) – trial conditions. The applicants complained about being held metal cages during court hearings on their cases in criminal proceedings brought against them (violation of Article 3).
Mariya Alekhina and Others v. Russia (no. 38004/12) – hearing conditions / transportation conditions to court – Among other things, the applicants complained about the conditions of their transportation to and from the courtroom and about having been held in a glass dock during court hearings (violation of Article 3).
3 July 2018
Voynov v. Russia (39747/10)
Following his conviction in 2010 the applicant was allocated to a detention facility located more than 4,000 km from his hometown. He complained that he could not maintain family ties due to the distance separating him from his relatives, and that he had no domestic effective remedy at his disposal in this respect.
Complaint under Article 13
The Court first observed that the Government could not give any example of a successful use of the remedy depicted in their submission. In addition, the Court recalled that it had deemed this remedy ineffective in many previous cases (§§41-42, see e.g.. Ananyev and Others v. Russia, nos. 42525/07 and others, §§ 107-112; Polyakova and Others v. Russia, no. 35090/09 and others). The Court saw no reason to depart from its previous findings and concluded there had been a violation of Article 13.
Complaint under Article 8
As regards the breach of the applicant’s right to family life, the Court recalled that it had already analysed “the Russian domestic legal system in the context of the geographic distribution of prisoners […] and concluded that the latter did not afford adequate legal protection against possible abuses” (§50 – see Polyakova and Others v. Russia, no. 35090/09 and others, §§90-115). The Court saw nothing in the Government’s submission to reach a different analysis. The Court therefore concluded that the interference with the applicant’s right to respect for family life had not been “in accordance with the law” and that there had been a breach of Article 8.
10 July 2018
Vasilevskiy and Bogdanov v. Russia (nos. 52241/14 and 74222/14)
The applicants complained that the amount of damages awarded by the domestic courts for their wrongful imprisonment was so small as to impair the very essence of their right under Article 5 § 5 of the Convention.
Law – Article 5 § 5
The domestic courts had established in substance that Mr Vasilevskiy had been deprived of his liberty for one and a half years as a result of a gross and obvious irregularity and that Mr Bogdanov’s unlawful conviction had been the consequence of a flagrant denial of justice undermining the lawfulness of his ensuing detention. Article 5 § 5 was therefore applicable.
The domestic courts had attempted, in good faith and to the best of their ability, to assess the level of suffering, distress, anxiety or other harmful effects sustained by the applicants by reason of their unlawful imprisonment. Such an assessment should be carried out in a manner consistent with the domestic legal requirements and take into account the standard of living in the country concerned, even if that resulted in awards of amounts that were lower than those fixed by the Court in similar cases. Mr Vasilevskiy had been awarded EUR 3,320 for the 472 days during which he had been unlawfully detained and Mr Bogdanov EUR 324 for the 119 days during which he had been unlawfully detained which amounted to the respective rates of EUR 7 and EUR 2.70 per day of wrongful deprivation of liberty. That level of compensation was not merely substantially lower than the Court’s awards in similar cases but also disproportionate to the duration of their detention and negligible in absolute terms. The sums awarded were so low as to undermine the essence of the applicants’ enforceable right to compensation.
Conclusion: violation (unanimously).
© Council of Europe/European Court of Human Rights
Ščensnovičius v. Lithuania (no. 62663/13)
The applicant complained of the conditions of his pre-trial detention. The Court observed that the domestic courts acknowledged that the applicant had been held in overcrowded cells. The Court added that “in the absence of specific calculation” it considered that “most probably the applicant had less than 3 square meters of personal space at his disposal for 1,159 days” (§78).
In addition the Court recalled that it had “already accepted the conclusions of the CPT that overcrowding in [the facility in which the applicant was held] was further aggravated by deplorable conditions” (§76).
The Court concluded accordingly that there had been a violation of Article 3.
17 July 2018
Abdillla v. Malta (no. 36199/15) & Ruiz Pena and Perez Oberght v. Malta (nos. 25218/15 and 25251/15)
All three applicants complained of their detention conditions; the first applicant complained as well of the lack of an effective remedy in this respect.
Complaints under Article 3
In both cases, the Court noted at the outset that the issues raised had already been considered in previous similar cases (see mainly Story and Others v. Malta, §§ 114-125 and Yanez Pinon and Others v. Malta, §109), and reiterated that “seen against the background that inmates were each hosted in a single occupancy cell of 9 sq. and that they were free to move around and access the exercise yard, as well as other recreational facilities, for more than ten hours a day, those overall conditions of detention do not amount to a violation of Article 3” (Abdilla, §45; Ruiz Pena and Perez Oberght, §55).
In the Abdilla case, the Courts further observed that the applicant’s submission lacked details as regards the other aspects of the material detention conditions complained about (squalid environment, bad smell) and declared that “this claim must be considered as unsubstantiated or in any event of no consequence” (§48). As regards the alleged low amount of gratuity money received, the Court stated that “in a system where […] all the basic needs [of the applicant] are supplied by the State, it cannot consider that a monthly pocket money of 46 EUR […] was not sufficient, if at all necessary” (§51).
In the Ruiz Penaand Perez Oberght case, the Court recalled its concern about the lack of heating system, but noted that the applicants “did not submit detailed information as to specific periods when the temperature inside had dropped […] and for how long such condition persisted during the winters”, and therefore could not “determine precisely the severity of the situation” (§§49-51). As regards the other aspects of the detention (lack of air circulation, lack of a flushing system, dust falling from the ceiling) the Court observed that the applicant have submitted under-substantiated claims and have not rebutted the Government’s arguments (§§ 51 et s.).
In both cases, the Court declared itself concerned about a number of matters highlighted, but not convinced “that the overall conditions of detention subjected the applicants to distress and hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention” (Ruiz Pena and Perez Oberght, §56). There had been no violation of Article 3.
Complaint under Article 13
The applicant in the first case complained as well that he had no effective remedy concerning his conditions of detention. The Court recalled that it had “already examined in detail […] each one of the remedies relied on by the Government […] and found that none of them, alone or in aggregate, satisfied the requirement of an effective remedy” (Adbilla, §69 – see i.a. Story and Others, §§77-86). The Court saw no reason to depart from its previous findings. Accordingly, there had been a violation of Article 13, taken in conjunction with Article 3.
Mangîr and Others v. the Republic of Moldova and Russia (no. 50157/06)
As regards the respective jurisdiction of the Republic of Moldova and Russia, the Court recalled its conclusions reached in previous leading cases (Ilaşcu and Others v. Moldova and Russia [GC], no. 48787/99; Mozer and Others v. Moldova and Russia, 11138/10).
The Republic of Moldova’s obligation under Article 1 of the Convention are limited to “taking the diplomatic, economic, judicial and other measures that [are] both in its power and in accordance with international law” to have the rights of the applicants of the Transdniestrian region (“MRT”) respected (§26). As for the Russian Federation, due to its decisive contribution to the creation of the MRT and to the strong influence it still has over the region, the applicants fall within its jurisdiction (§43).
Complaint under Article 3
The applicants complained of their conditions of detention. The Court recalled it had examined the detention conditions in the facility in which the applicant were held in a previous leading case, and saw no reason to depart from the conclusions thereof (§§53-54, see Mozer, §181).
One of the applicants complained that he was subjected to ill-treatment while in detention. The Court noted that the applicant suffered the consequences of a concussion after he was released, and the respondent Governments did not provide a plausible justification as to the origin of the injury.
Therefore there had been a violation of Article 3 by the Russian Federation.
Complaint under Article 13
The applicants complained that they had no effective remedies in respect of their complaints under Article 3. The Court noted that Moldova “had made procedures available to the applicant[s] commensurate with its limited ability to protect the applicant’s rights and that it had thus fulfilled its positive obligation”. The Court conversely observed that the Russian authorities did not submit any information about remedies available to applicants in the “MRT”.
For the reasons stated above, the Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 13 by the Russian Federation.
Shulmin and Others v. Russia (nos. 15918/13 and others)
The applicants complained about being held in metal cages during court hearings on their cases in criminal proceedings brought against them. The Court noted that the Government did not dispute this fact, recalled that it had already dealt with similar issues in previous leading cases (Svinarenko and Slyadnev v. Russia [GC], nos. 32541/08 and 43441/08; Vorontsov and Others v. Russia, no. 59655/14) and declared on these occasions that “the use of metal cages in the courtroom […] constituted in itself an affront to human dignity and amounted to a degrading treatment prohibited by Article 3 of the Convention” (§8). Therefore, the Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 3.
Mariya Alekhina and Others v. Russia (no. 38004/12)
Among other things, the applicants complained about the conditions of their transportation to and from the courtroom and about having been held in a glass dock during court hearings.
As regards the conditions of transportation, the Court observed that the applicants were transported thirty times over one month of detention in compartments that allowed less than one sq. m. per person, and concluded that this consideration was sufficient to find that there had been a violation of Article 3.
As regards the treatment endured during court hearings, the Court declared at the offset that “glass docks do not have the harsh appearance of metal cages” (§145). However, the Court noted that the Government failed to justify why the glass dock was “constantly surrounded by armed police officers and court ushers” and why “a guard was present next to it in the room” (§147). Moreover, the Court observed that “the applicants’ trial was closely followed by national and international media and they were permanently exposed to public view in a glass dock that was surrounded by armed police, with a guard dog next to it” (§149). Therefore, the Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 3.