Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 183
Muršić v. Croatia - 7334/13
Judgment 12.3.2015 [Section I] See:  ECHR 290
Alleged prison overcrowding: no violation
Facts - In his application to the European Court, the applicant essentially complained about lack of personal space in the prison where he served a sentence of one year and five months. During his incarceration he was placed in four different cells where he had between three and just over seven square metres of personal space. On occasional non-consecutive short periods, including one period of twenty-seven days, his personal space fell slightly below three sq. m.
Law - Article 3: Pursuant to the principles set out in the Ananyev and Others v. Russia judgment, when examining an alleged violation of Article 3 on account of a lack of personal space in prison the Court had to consider whether each detainee had an individual sleeping place in the cell and disposed of at least three sq. m. of floor space, and whether the overall surface area of the cell was such as to allow detainees to move freely between items of furniture. The absence of any of the above elements created in itself a strong presumption that the conditions of detention amounted to degrading treatment, in breach of Article 3.
However, that strong presumption could, in certain circumstances, be rebutted by the cumulative effect of the detention conditions, although this was hardly likely in the event of a flagrant lack of personal space, of confinement in an altogether inappropriate detention facility or where established structural problems existed. Conversely, it could not be excluded that the presumption would be rebutted, for example, in the case of short and occasional minor restrictions of the required personal space accompanied by sufficient freedom of movement and out-of-cell activities and confinement in an appropriate facility.
In the present case, the Court was mindful that the size of the cells where the applicant had been placed had not always been adequate, as for occasional non-consecutive short periods (including one period of twenty-seven days) he had disposed of slightly less than three sq. m. of personal space. However, this had been accompanied by sufficient freedom of movement and confinement in an appropriate facility. Thus, in the light of the principles set out in Ananyev, the conditions of the applicant’s detention, though not always adequate, had not reached the threshold of severity required to characterise the treatment as inhuman or degrading within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention.
Conclusion: no violation (six votes to one).
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This summary by the Registry does not bind the Court.
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