Европейский суд по правам человека первая секция




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In the light of the above, the CPT reiterates its recommendation that the Russian authorities review the application of complaints procedures, with a view to ensuring that they are operating effectively. If necessary, the existing arrangements should be modified in order to guarantee that prisoners can make complaints to outside bodies on a truly confidential basis."


THE LAW


I. Alleged violation of Article 3 of the Convention on

account of the conditions of the applicant's detention


28. The applicant complained that the conditions of his detention from 24 January 2000 to 25 January 2002 in the Ukhta Town temporary detention unit and detention facility No. IZ-7/2 were in breach of Article 3 of the Convention, which reads as follows:

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."


A. Submissions by the parties


29. The Government argued that the applicant had not exhausted the domestic remedies available to him. In particular, he had not complained to a court about the conditions of his detention. The Government further commented on the conditions of the applicant's detention. In particular, they submitted that the applicant had been detained in satisfactory sanitary conditions. They pointed out that the applicant had not been detained in overcrowded cells. At all times he had enjoyed at least eight hours' sleep. He had been given food which had met applicable standards. They further noted that certain "inconveniences" which the applicant had experienced during his detention had been caused by "objective reasons" and had had "short-term character".

30. The applicant submitted that he had not applied to a prosecutor or court because he had considered that such a complaint would not have any prospect of success. On numerous occasions, however, he had complained to the administrations about certain aspects related to the conditions of his detention. Thus they were sufficiently aware of his situation but no changes followed. He further challenged the Government's description of his conditions of detention as factually inaccurate. He insisted that the cells had at all times been severely overcrowded.


B. The Court's assessment


1. Admissibility


(a) Simultaneous examination of the complaints about the conditions of detention in the both detention facilities

31. The Court observes at the outset that the applicant complained of appalling conditions of his detention in two separate detention facilities, the Ukhta Town temporary detention unit and facility No. IZ-7/2 in Sosnogorsk, in which he was detained from 24 January to 4 February 2000 and from 4 February 2000 to 25 January 2002 respectively. The applicant provided identical descriptions of the conditions of his detention, primarily alleging overcrowding beyond the design capacity and shortage of sleeping places in the both facilities. According to the applicant, during those two years of his detention he was usually afforded less than 3.5 square metres of personal space, irrespective of the place of his detention.

32. In this connection, the Court reiterates that in a number of cases in which detained applicants usually disposed of less than three and a half square metres of personal space it has already found that the lack of personal space afforded to them was so extreme as to justify, in its own right, a violation of Article 3 of the Convention (see Kantyrev v. Russia, No. 37213/02, §§ 50 - 51, 21 June 2007; Igor Ivanov v. Russia, No. 34000/02, §§ 37 - 38, 7 June 2007; Benediktov v. Russia, No. 106/02, §§ 36 - 38, 10 May 2007; Andrey Frolov v. Russia, No. 205/02, §§ 47 - 49, 29 March 2007; Mayzit v. Russia, No. 63378/00, §§ 40, 20 January 2005; and Labzov v. Russia, No. 62208/00, §§ 44, 16 June 2005, among others). The Court also found that the problems arising from overcrowding in Russian pre-trial detention facilities were of a structural nature (see Moiseyev v. Russia (dec.), No. 62936/00, 9 December 2004; Kalashnikov v. Russia (dec.), No. 47095/99, 18 September 2001; and Mamedova v. Russia, No. 7064/05, § 57, 1 June 2006).

33. Having regard to the Court's approach laid down in the above-mentioned cases, the Court finds that the continuous nature of the applicant's detention, his identical descriptions of the general conditions of his detention and the allegation of severe overcrowding as the main characteristic of the conditions of his detention in the both facilities warrant examination of the applicant's detention from 24 January 2000 to 25 January 2002 without dividing it into separate periods (see, for similar reasoning, Benediktov, cited above, § 31). The Court does not lose sight of the Government's argument that certain aspects of the conditions of the applicant's detention varied in the two facilities. However, it does not consider that differences in the measurements of the windows or availability of bedding are characteristics which allow distinctions to be made between the conditions of the applicant's detention or the separation of his detention into two periods depending on the facility where he was detained.

(b) Non-exhaustion issue

34. The Court notes the Government's argument that the applicant failed to lodge an action before a court complaining about the appalling conditions of his detention. In this connection, the Court observes that it has already on a number of occasions examined the same objection by the Russian Government and dismissed it. In particular, the Court held in the relevant cases that the Government had not demonstrated what redress could have been afforded to the applicant by a prosecutor, a court, or another State agency, bearing in mind that the problems arising from the conditions of the applicant's detention were apparently of a structural nature and did not concern the applicant's personal situation alone (see Moiseyev v. Russia (dec.), No. 62936/00, 9 December 2004; and Kalashnikov v. Russia (dec.), No. 47095/99, 18 September 2001). The Court sees no reason to depart from that finding in the present case and therefore considers that this complaint cannot be rejected for failure to exhaust domestic remedies.

35. The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention and is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.


2. Merits


36. The Court notes that the parties have disputed certain aspects of the conditions of the applicant's detention in the Ukhta Town temporary detention unit and detention facility No. IZ-7/2 in Sosnogorsk. However, there is no need for the Court to establish the veracity of each and every allegation, because it finds a violation of Article 3 on the basis of facts presented to it which the respondent Government did not refute.

37. The main characteristic which the parties did agree upon was the size of the cells. However, the applicant claimed that there had usually been two or three times more inmates in his cell than the number it had been fit to accommodate. The Government, relying on the extracts from the registration log drawn up in the Ukhta Town detention unit (see paragraph 15 above), the certificates issued by the director of facility No. IZ-7/2 and written statements by the warders of that facility (see paragraph 20 above), argued that the applicant had usually been detained with two or three other inmates in the first facility and either with three inmates in the smaller cell or with seven inmates in the bigger cells in the second facility.

38. The Court accepts the Government's submissions concerning the number of inmates detained together with the applicant in the Ukhta Town temporary detention unit. Those submissions were corroborated by the extracts from the registration log recording names of detainees and their allocation to the cells in the ward. These extracts state that the applicant was usually held with two or three other detainees in ten-square-metre cells. Thus, the living area per inmate varied from 2.6 to 3.4 square metres. At the same time, the Court is not convinced by the Government's argument that the applicant had his own "sleeping place" throughout his detention in the ward. The Government alleged that there were four sleeping places in the cells. However, the photos of the cell produced by the Government (see paragraph 15 above) show only two single-tier metal bunks. It follows that the number of detainees was greater than the number of available bunks and the detainees, including the applicant, had to share the sleeping facilities, taking turns to rest.

39. As regards the conditions of the applicant's detention in facility No. IZ-7/2, the Court notes that the Government, in their plea concerning the number of detainees, cited statements by the warders and the facility's director indicating the number of the applicant's fellow inmates. The Court considers it extraordinary that in December 2005, that is almost four years after the applicant's detention in that facility had come to an end, the officials were able to recollect the exact number of inmates who had been detained together with the applicant. The Court observes that it was open to the Government to submit copies of registration logs showing names of inmates detained with the applicant. However, no such documents were presented. The Court finds it peculiar that the Government preferred to submit the extracts from the registration logs to support their allegations concerning the conditions of the applicant's detention in the first detention facility, but failed to do so to corroborate their statements pertaining to the second detention facility.

40. In this connection, the Court reiterates that Convention proceedings, such as the present application, do not in all cases lend themselves to a rigorous application of the principle affirmanti incumbit probatio (he who alleges something must prove that allegation), as in certain instances the respondent Government alone have access to information capable of corroborating or refuting allegations. A failure on a Government's part to submit such information without a satisfactory explanation may give rise to the drawing of inferences as to the well-foundedness of the applicant's allegations (see Ahmet {Ozkan} and Others v. Turkey, No. 21689/93, § 426, 6 April 2004).

41. Having regard to the principle cited above, together with the fact that the Government did not submit any convincing relevant information and that the applicant provided the Court with a written statement by one of his inmates corroborating his assertions (see paragraph 22 above), the Court will examine the issue concerning the number of inmates in the cells in facility No. IZ-7/2 on the basis of the applicant's submissions.

42. The applicant argued that the number of inmates had exceeded the design capacity of the cells by two or three times. It follows that the personal space afforded to inmates in facility No. IZ-7/2 varied from 1.4 to 2.7 square metres. There was a clear shortage of sleeping places and the applicant had to share a bed with other detainees.

43. Hence, taking into account the findings made in paragraphs 38 and 42 above, the Court concludes that during the two years of his detention in the Ukhta Town temporary detention unit and subsequently in facility No. IZ-7/2 in Sosnogorsk the applicant had no more than 3.5 square metres of personal space. Furthermore, for most of his detention period he was afforded less than 2.7 square metres of living area in the cell to which he was confined day and night.

44. The Court has frequently found a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of lack of personal space afforded to detainees (see Khudoyorov v. Russia, No. 6847/02, § 104 et seq., ECHR 2005-... (extracts); Labzov v. Russia, No. 62208/00, § 44 et seq., 16 June 2005; Novoselov v. Russia, No. 66460/01, § 41 et seq., 2 June 2005; Mayzit v. Russia, No. 63378/00, § 39 et seq., 20 January 2005; Kalashnikov v. Russia, No. 47095/99, §§ 97 et seq., ECHR 2002-VI; and Peers v. Greece, No. 28524/95, §§ 69 et seq., ECHR 2001-III).

45. Having regard to its case-law on the subject and the material submitted by the parties, the Court notes that the Government have not put forward any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion in the present case. Although in the present case there is no indication that there was a positive intention to humiliate or debase the applicant, the Court finds that the fact that the applicant was obliged to live, sleep and use the toilet in the same cell as so many other inmates for two years was itself sufficient to cause distress or hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention, and to arouse in him feelings of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing him.

46. The Court finds, accordingly, that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention because the applicant was subjected to degrading treatment on account of the conditions of the applicant's detention from 24 January 2000 to 25 January 2002 in the Ukhta Town temporary detention unit and facility No. IZ-7/2 in Sosnogorsk.


II. Alleged violation of Article 3 of the Convention on

account of the conditions of the applicant's transport


47. The applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention that the conditions of his transport from facility No. IZ-7/2 in Sosnogorsk to a correctional colony in the Mordoviya Republic had been inhuman and degrading. He had been deprived of sleep, denied food and transported in severely overcrowded compartments. In his view such treatment amounted to torture.


A. Submissions by the parties


48. The Government provided arguments along two general lines. Firstly, they submitted that the applicant had been able to lodge an action with a court complaining about the poor conditions of his transport to the correctional colony. He had had an effective remedy at his disposal but had never made use of it. Therefore, his complaint should be dismissed for failure to exhaust domestic remedies.

49. If, however, the Court were to decide otherwise, the Government insisted that the applicant's complaint was manifestly ill-founded as the conditions of his transport had corresponded to every existing requirement. He had been provided with dry rations and water and had been allowed to use the lavatory during his transport. In the course of the longest part of his journey he was alone in the compartment, which was designed to accommodate five detainees. The Government argued that minor inconveniences that the applicant had experienced during the transport, such as being checked on regularly, had been conditioned by security considerations.

50. The applicant averred that he had not been able to lodge a complaint with a court for fear of reprisal. Furthermore, the procedure for lodging such a complaint was complicated by the fact of his transfer from one place of detention to another. He was unaware of any effective domestic remedy.


КонсультантПлюс: примечание.

Нумерация разделов дана в соответствии с источником опубликования.


A. The Court's assessment


1. Admissibility


51. The Government raised the objection of non-exhaustion of domestic remedies by the applicant. The Court reiterates that the rule of exhaustion of domestic remedies under Article 35 § 1 of the Convention obliges applicants to use first the remedies which are available and sufficient in the domestic legal system to enable them to obtain redress for the breaches alleged. The existence of the remedies must be sufficiently certain both in theory and in practice, failing which they will lack the requisite accessibility and effectiveness. Article 35 § 1 also requires that complaints intended to be brought subsequently before the Court should have been made to the appropriate domestic body, at least in substance and in compliance with the formal requirements and time-limits laid down in domestic law and, further, that any procedural means that might prevent a breach of the Convention should have been used. However, there is no obligation to have recourse to remedies which are inadequate or ineffective (see Aksoy v. Turkey, judgment of 18 December 1996, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-VI, pp. 2275 - 76, §§ 51 - 52; Akdivar and Others v. Turkey, judgment of 16 September 1996, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-IV, p. 1210, §§ 65 - 67; and, most recently, Cennet Ayhan and Mehmet Salih Ayhan v. Turkey, No. 41964/98, § 64, 27 June 2006).
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