CASE OF MALTABAR AND MALTABAR v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 6954/02)
29 January 2009
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Maltabar and Maltabar v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Sverre Erik Jebens,
Giorgio Malinverni, judges,
and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 8 January 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
A. Criminal proceedings against the applicants
B. Conditions of the applicants' pre-trial detention
1. The detention in a local police station
2. The detention in pre-trial detention centre IZ-69/1
(a) The first applicant
(i) Conditions of detention in cell no. 23
(ii) Conditions of detention in cell no. 42
(iii) Conditions of detention in cell no. 54
(iv) Conditions of detention in cell no. 60
(v) Conditions of detention in punishment cell
(b) The second applicant
(i) Conditions of detention in cell no. 21
(ii) Conditions of detention in cells nos. 102 and 84
(iii) Conditions of detention in the punishment cell
(a) General information on establishment IZ-69/1
3. The conditions of transportation and detention in the courthouse
4. Statements by various officials and human rights NGO reports
II. Relevant domestic law and practice
A. Rules on the detention regime in pre-trial detention centres (as approved by Decree no. 148 of the Ministry of Justice of 12 May 2000)
B. Order no. 7 of the Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences dated 31 January 2005
III. Relevant Council of Europe documents
Extracts from the 2nd General Report [CPT/Inf (92) 3]
“46. Overcrowding is an issue of direct relevance to the CPT's mandate. All the services and activities within a prison will be adversely affected if it is required to cater for more prisoners than it was designed to accommodate; the overall quality of life in the establishment will be lowered, perhaps signiﬁcantly. Moreover, the level of overcrowding in a prison, or in a particular part of it, might be such as to be in itself inhuman or degrading from a physical standpoint.
47. A satisfactory programme of activities (work, education, sport, etc.) is of crucial importance for the well-being of prisoners ... [P]risoners cannot simply be left to languish for weeks, possibly months, locked up in their cells, and this regardless of how good material conditions might be within the cells. The CPT considers that one should aim at ensuring that prisoners in remand establishments are able to spend a reasonable part of the day (8 hours or more) outside their cells, engaged in purposeful activity of a varied nature ...
48. Speciﬁc mention should be made of outdoor exercise. The requirement that prisoners be allowed at least one hour of exercise in the open air every day is widely accepted as a basic safeguard ... It is also axiomatic that outdoor exercise facilities should be reasonably spacious ...
49. Ready access to proper toilet facilities and the maintenance of good standards of hygiene are essential components of a humane environment ...
50. The CPT would add that it is particularly concerned when it ﬁnds a combination of overcrowding, poor regime activities and inadequate access to toilet/washing facilities in the same establishment. The cumulative effect of such conditions can prove extremely detrimental to prisoners.
51. It is also very important for prisoners to maintain reasonably good contact with the outside world. Above all, a prisoner must be given the means of safeguarding his relationships with his family and close friends. The guiding principle should be the promotion of contact with the outside world; any limitations upon such contact should be based exclusively on security concerns of an appreciable nature or resource considerations ...”
Extracts from the 7th General Report [CPT/Inf (97) 10]
“13. As the CPT pointed out in its 2nd General Report, prison overcrowding is an issue of direct relevance to the Committee's mandate (cf. CPT/Inf (92) 3, paragraph 46). An overcrowded prison entails cramped and unhygienic accommodation; a constant lack of privacy (even when performing such basic tasks as using a sanitary facility); reduced out-of-cell activities, due to demand outstripping the staff and facilities available; overburdened health-care services; increased tension and hence more violence between prisoners and between prisoners and staff. This list is far from exhaustive.
The CPT has been led to conclude on more than one occasion that the adverse effects of overcrowding have resulted in inhuman and degrading conditions of detention ...”
Extracts from the 11th General Report [CPT/Inf (2001) 16]
“28. The phenomenon of prison overcrowding continues to blight penitentiary systems across Europe and seriously undermines attempts to improve conditions of detention. The negative effects of prison overcrowding have already been highlighted in previous General Reports ...
29. In a number of countries visited by the CPT, particularly in central and eastern Europe, inmate accommodation often consists of large capacity dormitories which contain all or most of the facilities used by prisoners on a daily basis, such as sleeping and living areas as well as sanitary facilities. The CPT has objections to the very principle of such accommodation arrangements in closed prisons and those objections are reinforced when, as is frequently the case, the dormitories in question are found to hold prisoners under extremely cramped and insalubrious conditions ... Large-capacity dormitories inevitably imply a lack of privacy for prisoners in their everyday lives ... All these problems are exacerbated when the numbers held go beyond a reasonable occupancy level; further, in such a situation the excessive burden on communal facilities such as washbasins or lavatories and the insufficient ventilation for so many persons will often lead to deplorable conditions.
30. The CPT frequently encounters devices, such as metal shutters, slats, or plates ﬁtted to cell windows, which deprive prisoners of access to natural light and prevent fresh air from entering the accommodation. They are a particularly common feature of establishments holding pre-trial prisoners. The CPT fully accepts that speciﬁc security measures designed to prevent the risk of collusion and/or criminal activities may well be required in respect of certain prisoners ... [E]ven when such measures are required, they should never involve depriving the prisoners concerned of natural light and fresh air. The latter are basic elements of life which every prisoner is entitled to enjoy ...”
I. THE GOVERNMENT'S PRELIMINARY OBJECTION
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 OF THE CONVENTION
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
A. The parties' submissions
B. The Court's assessment
1. The applicants' compliance with the six-month time-limit
2. The conditions of detention in pre-trial detention centre IZ-69/1
3. The conditions of transportation
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
“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.”
B. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(a) that the respondent State is to pay each applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, EUR 3,000 (three thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into Russian roubles at the rate applicable at the date of settlement, plus any tax that may be chargeable;
(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;
Done in English, and notified in writing on 29 January 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis