AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
by Aleksandr Trofimovich SHKURENKO
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 10 September 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Sverre Erik Jebens,
George Nicolaou, judges,
and André Wampach, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 31 March 2004,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
applicant, Mr Aleksandr Trofimovich Shkurenko, is a Russian national
who was born in 1953 and is currently serving a sentence of
imprisonment. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Ms V. Milinchuk and Mr A. Savenkov, former Representative and former acting Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights respectively.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
1. The applicant’s conviction
On 26 August 1998 the applicant was arrested on suspicion of rape and remanded in custody.
On 24 March 2000 the Magadan Town Court convicted the applicant of rape and sentenced him to thirteen years’ imprisonment.
2. Conditions of the applicant’s detention in a correctional colony
On 30 August 2000 the applicant was transferred to correctional colony IK 3 of Talaya, the Magadan Region (ФГУ ИК-3 УФСИН по Магаданской области) to serve his sentence. The parties submitted the following accounts of conditions in IK 3.
(a) The Government’s submissions
The applicant was held in units nos. 2 and 4 of the correctional colony. On several occasions he was also held in punishment units nos. 2 and 8 of the disciplinary unit.
Unit no. 2 was a dormitory which measured 185.2 sq. m, including a sleeping area of 138.17 sq. m, a canteen and a sanitary unit. Unit no. 4 was a dormitory measuring 257.8 sq. m and including a sleeping area of 216 sq. m, a canteen, a washroom and a toilet. Unit no. 2 housed from 48 to 65 inmates, and unit no. 4 housed from 75 to 90 inmates. During the daytime the applicant could move freely within the unit’s local zone.
Punishment units nos. 2 and 8 measured 8 and 16 sq. m respectively. They housed respectively two and four inmates including the applicant. Since the applicant was engaged in labour he spent most of the day outside the unit. He could also take one-hour outside walks after work.
The windows of the punishment units measured 1.1 by 0.6 m, and the windows of the dormitories measured 1.5 by 1.5 m. They were not covered with metal blinds and had no other arrangements preventing the access of daylight.
All premises were equipped with 100-watt filament lamps and 60-watt security lights.
The punishment units, bathhouse and canteen were equipped with natural and extractor ventilation. The sleeping areas of the units had natural ventilation.
All premises were sufficiently heated. The average temperature in the sleeping areas of the units was maintained at 20-22 degrees Celsius, and in the punishment units at 18-20 degrees Celsius.
The punishment units were equipped with lavatories separated from the living area by 1.4 m-high brick partitions. The dormitories were equipped with lavatory rooms equipped with cold and hot water taps and lavatory booths separated from one another by 1.7 metre-high partitions.
The applicant had at all times been provided with an individual bed and bedding (a mattress, a blanket, a pillow, two bed sheets and a pillow slip).
The applicant could take a shower once a week. He was given food in accordance with the established norms. The quality of the food was monitored on a regular basis by the medical staff of the facility. The applicant could receive food parcels from relatives and buy food at the facility’s shop.
The punishment units were equipped with dining tables and benches, and the dormitories had canteens where the inmates took their meals.
Regular disinfections and disinfestations were carried out in the facility.
(b) The applicant’s submissions
Punishment unit no. 2 was half the size indicated by the Government and housed two inmates. Unit no. 2 was shared by over 100 inmates. The artificial lighting in the colony’s premises was insufficient and often non-existent on account of electricity cuts. The heating was also insufficient. There was no ventilation. The dimensions of the windows indicated by the Government were incorrect. There were no hot water taps in the facility. The food was of poor quality and inadequate in quantity. The bedding was never changed.
3. Proceedings relating to the applicant’s request to secure his property
On 3 September 1998 the applicant requested the police to secure his property during his pre-trial detention. On 30 March 1999 he made the same request to the court.
The court established the following.
The applicant did not indicate any particular individual or legal entity to be entrusted with securing his property. He further refused to have the property secured on a commercial basis. The police made a considerable effort to find a person who would be in the best position to secure the applicant’s property. In particular, they contacted the applicant’s brother, the municipal maintenance company and persons identified as P., K. and R., but for various reasons the attempts proved unsuccessful.
As a result, on 3 September 1998, the applicant’s property and belongings were entrusted to V., a person who lived in the applicant’s flat with the applicant’s permission.
Later V. disappeared, and the prosecutor’s office failed to discover his whereabouts.
On an unspecified date the applicant informed the police of his other belongings located in different places. However, the applicant did not provide any documents certifying that he was the owner of the belongings in question. The court established, however, that a person identified as Zh. agreed to keep the applicant’s car. R. provided a list of the applicant’s belongings which were kept at her place, and the applicant did not object to the above persons being left in charge of his belongings.
The final decision was given by the Magadan Regional Court on 15 October 2003.
B. Relevant domestic law
Article 99 § 1 of the Penitentiary Code of 8 January 1997 lays down a minimum standard of two square metres of personal space for male convicts in correctional colonies.
The applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention that the conditions in the penitentiary facility where he was serving his sentence had amounted to “torture”.
Relying on Articles 6 §§ 1 and 3 (b), (c), (d), 8 § 1, 13 and 17 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 thereto the applicant complained that the domestic authorities had failed to undertake the necessary measures to secure his property.
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The Government contested the applicant’s allegations. They submitted that the conditions in IK 3 complied with the standard requirements imposed by prison regulations and in any event did not breach Article 3 of the Convention. They made detailed submissions as regards the allocation of space per inmate (set out in the Facts section above) alleging that the facility could not be considered overcrowded because it allowed from 2.12 to 2.9 sq. m per person in the sleeping area, which exceeded the statutory minimum of 2.0 sq. m per inmate. In addition, the inmates had access to communal facilities in the same sleeping area, and enjoyed wide freedom of movement within the unit’s local zone from the wake-up signal in the morning to the lock-in at night. The punishment units where the applicant was held offered 4 sq. m of personal space per inmate. In any event, since the applicant was employed he spent most of the day outside the unit and could benefit, in addition to that, from daily outside walks.
Relying on certificates issued by the facility’s director, the Government further submitted that the lighting, ventilation and heating, sanitary conditions and catering provided to the applicant in the colony had been satisfactory.
The applicant disputed the Government’s submissions as to the measurements of one of the punishment units where he had been detained on unspecified dates and the number of inmates in one of the units. He further alleged the absence of proper light, ventilation, sanitary conditions and heating in the premises of the colony, and poor catering.
As regards the applicant’s allegation of overcrowding, the Court observes that the applicant only challenged the Government’s submissions in so far as they concerned the measurements of punishment unit no. 2 which was “half the size indicated by the Government” and the number of inmates detained with him in unit no. 2 which was “over 100”. The Court notes, however, that the applicant provided no further detail, such as, for example, an indication of the actual living space per inmate or the exact number of convicts at any particular period of time. It appears, therefore, that the applicant was allocated from 2.12 to 2.9 sq. m of personal space in the sleeping area of units nos. 2 and 4, and 4 sq. m in punishment units nos. 2 and 8, and that he was at all times provided with an individual bunk bed. The Court observes that these figures conform to the domestic standard of 2.0 sq. m for male convicts in correctional colonies. Furthermore, it reiterates that the personal space in the dormitory must be viewed in the context of the wide freedom of movement enjoyed by detainees in correctional colonies during the daytime, which ensures that they have unobstructed access to natural light and air (see Solovyev v. Russia (dec.), no. 76114/01, 27 September 2007; Nurmagomedov v. Russia (dec.), no. 30138/02, 16 September 2004; and Valašinas v. Lithuania, no. 44558/98, §§ 103 and 107, ECHR 2001-VIII).
The Court further notes that the remaining allegations raised by the applicant as to the lack of proper light, ventilation and heating, and inadequate sanitary conditions and catering in the correctional colony are vague and unsupported by any evidence or detailed description of the impugned conditions.
In view of the applicant’s failure to substantiate any of his allegations concerning the poor conditions in the correctional colony, the Court considers his complaint manifestly ill-founded. It concludes that this part of the application must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Declares the application inadmissible.
André Wampach Christos Rozakis
Deputy Registrar President