CASE OF DUBOV v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 16747/12)
15 October 2015
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Dubov v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, judges,
and André Wampach, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 22 September 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 16747/12) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Russian national, Mr Oleg Yuryevich Dubov (“the applicant”), on 30 June 2011.
2. The applicant was represented before the Court by Mr V. Rodionov, a lawyer practising in Cheboksary. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, the Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
3. On 21 December 2012 the application was communicated to the Government.
4. On 24 May 2013 the Government submitted observations on the admissibility and merits of the case, on which the applicant commented on 17 July 2013.
5. On 16 September 2013 the Government submitted a unilateral declaration inviting the Court to strike the case out of the list of cases. By letter of 28 October 2013, the applicant disagreed with the Government’s offer.
6. The applicant was born in 1968. On 25 October
2010 the Supreme Court of the Chuvash Republic found the applicant guilty of
murdering his girlfriend and sentenced him to thirteen years’ imprisonment in a
high-security facility. On 27 December 2010 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upheld the conviction on appeal.
7. Since 31 January 2011 the applicant has been serving his sentence in the IK-11 facility (Russian designation УЗ-62/11), a correctional institution located in the Nizhniy Novgorod Region. The sleeping area was severely overcrowded, with each prisoner having less than two square metres of personal space.
8. The Government submitted copies of the supervising prosecutor’s infringement reports showing that a severe overcrowding had been a constant problem in the IK-11 facility at least until 2013.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 OF THE CONVENTION
9. The applicant complained that the conditions of his detention in the IK-11 facility amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment 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. The Government’s request for the case to be struck out under Article 37 of the Convention
10. Having studied the terms of the Government’s declaration of 16 September 2013 (see paragraph 5 above), the Court is satisfied that the Government acknowledged a violation Article 3 of the Convention on account of inhuman and degrading conditions of the applicant’s detention in the IK-11 facility. The Government also offered to pay compensation.
11. The Court observes that the declaration relates to a period of the applicant’s detention that spans from 31 January 2011 to 25 September 2012. In his comments on the declaration (see paragraph 5 above), the applicant pointed out that the declaration did not cover the entire period of his detention and that the conditions in the facility had remained inhuman and degrading after 25 September 2012.
12. The Court reiterates that, as a general rule, a period of an applicant’s detention should be regarded as a “continuing situation” as long as the detention has been effected in the same type of detention facility in substantially similar conditions (see Ananyev and Others v. Russia, nos. 42525/07 and 60800/08, § 78, 10 January 2012). However, a significant change in the detention regime, even where it occurs within the same facility, has been held by the Court to put an end to the “continuous situation” (ibid., § 77).
13. In the instant case, the applicant’s detention in the IK-11 facility began on 31 January 2011. On 2 July 2012 the applicant submitted an information sheet containing a detailed description of the conditions of his detention. In his comments on the Government’s observations and on their declaration (see paragraphs 4 and 5 above), the applicant maintained that he continued to be detained in the same facility and that there had been no impovement in the conditions of his detention.
14. The Court notes that the applicant complained not of an isolated act but rather of a situation in which he had been for some time and which was to last until it ended. It would be excessively formalistic to demand that an applicant denouncing such a situation should file a new application at regular intervals for as long as his or her detention in the inadequate conditions continues (compare Novokreshchin v. Russia, no. 40573/08, § 15, 27 November 2014). In accordance with national and international practice, the Court is competent to examine facts which occurred during the proceedings before it and constitute a mere extension or the facts complained of at the outset (see Kalinin v. Russia, no. 54749/12, § 15, 19 February 2015, with further references).
15. The Government’s declaration covers the period of the applicant’s detention as it was described in the statement of facts when the case was communicated. It is however recalled that, while a statement of facts is prepared by the Court’s Registry, it does not bind the Court or delimit the scope of the complaint. It is a working document containing a summary of the applicant’s submissions which, upon the preliminary examination of the application and documents submitted, give the Court reason to believe that the case reveals prima facie evidence of a violation of the Convention. It is incumbent on the parties to verify the accuracy of the statement of facts and to submit such documents, which are in their possession or which are readily available to the State authorities concerned, as are necessary to complement the description of the circumstances of the case (see Rule 44A of the Rules of Court and Kalinin, cited above, § 15, with further references).
16. It is apparent that, when submitting their declaration on 16 September 2013, the Government were aware, on the basis of the applicant’s previous submissions and the materials they had obtained from national authorities (see paragraphs 8 and 13 above), that the applicant had continued to be detained in an overcrowded facility. The Government did not refer to any significant change in the detention regime which could have put an end to the “continuous situation” of the applicant’s detention in the intervening period. Nor did they provide any other justification for not taking into account the entire period of the applicant’s detention that had lapsed until the date of submission of the declaration. In these circumstances, the Court considers, without prejudging its decision on the admissibility and merits of the case, that the Government’s declaration does not provide a sufficient basis for concluding that respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols does not require it to continue its examination of the case (see Zavorin v. Russia, no. 42080/11, §§ 17-18, 15 January 2015).
17. This being so, the Court rejects the Government’s request to strike the application out of its list of cases under Article 37 of the Convention and will accordingly pursue its examination of the admissibility and merits of the case.
18. The Court notes that the complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
19. The Court declared admissible the applicant’s complaint about the conditions of his detention in the IK-11 facility. His detention began on 31 January 2011 and continued at least until 28 October 2013, the date of the applicant’s most recent communication available in the case-file, on which he known to be in that facility (see Pushchelenko and Others v. Russia, nos. 45392/11, 47671/11, 62205/11, 45312/13 and 53366/13, § 28, 12 March 2015). The duration of the period to be taken into consideration is almost two years and eight months.
20. The severe overcrowding which plagued the facility during the relevant period is an established fact which is not in dispute between the parties. It transpires from the reports compiled by supervising prosecutors (see paragraph 8 above) that the shortage of personal space was so extreme that the domestic standard of two square metres per detainee could not be maintained. In earlier cases against Russia concerning the conditions of detention in correctional colonies, the Court has considered the detention in overcrowded dormitories where the personal space afforded to the detainees fell below the domestic standard of two square metres, if only at night, to be one of the decisive factors weighing in favour of finding a violation of Article 3 of the Convention (see Sergey Babushkin v. Russia, no. 5993/08, § 56, 28 November 2013; Yepishin v. Russia, no. 591/07, § 65, 27 June 2013, and Kulikov v. Russia, no. 48562/06, § 37, 27 November 2012). The Court finds no reason to hold otherwise in the present case.
21. The foregoing considerations are sufficient to enable the Court to conclude that the applicant was detained in the conditions which were inhuman and degrading.
22. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.
II. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
23. Lastly, the applicant complained about alleged shortcomings in the criminal proceedings against him.
24. Having regard to all the material in its possession, the Court finds that these complaints do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention or its Protocols. It follows that this part of the application must be rejected as manifestly ill-founded, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 (a) and 4 of the Convention.
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
25. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
26. The applicant claimed 18,000 euros (EUR) in
27. The Government did not comment on his claim.
28. Having regard to its practice in similar cases (see Sergey Babushkin v. Russia (just satisfaction), no. 5993/08, § 9, 16 October 2014; Yepishin v. Russia, no. 591/07, § 83, 27 June 2013, and Ananyev and Others, cited above, § 172), the Court awards the applicant EUR 10,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
B. Costs and expenses
29. The applicant did not make a claim under this head.
C. Default interest
30. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY,
1. Rejects the Government’s request to strike the application out of its list of cases under Article 37 of the Convention;
2. Declares the complaint concerning the conditions of the applicant’s detention in the IK-11 facility admissible and the remainder inadmissible;
3. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, EUR 10,000 (ten thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
5. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 15 October 2015, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
André Wampach Khanlar Hajiyev
Deputy Registrar President