Execution of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
Peers against Greece
(Application No. 28524/95, judgment of 16 July 2001, Grand Chamber)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which provides that the Committee supervises the execution of final judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter “the Convention” and “the Court”);
Having regard to the judgment transmitted by the Court to the Committee once it had become final;
Recalling that the violations of the Convention found by the Court in this case concern the degrading conditions under which the applicant was detained in prison (violation of Article 3) and interference with his correspondence with the former European Commission of Human Rights (violation of Article 8).
Having invited the government of the respondent state to inform the Committee of the measures taken to comply with its obligation under Article 46, paragraph 1, of the Convention to abide by the judgment;
Having examined the information provided by the government in accordance with the Committee's Rules for the application of Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention;
Having satisfied itself that, within the time-limit set, the respondent state paid the applicant the just satisfaction provided in the judgment (see details in Appendix),
Recalling that a finding of violations by the Court requires, over and above the payment of just satisfaction awarded by the Court in its judgments, the adoption by the respondent state, where appropriate:
- of individual measures to put an end to the violations and erase their consequences so as to achieve as far as possible restitutio in integrum; and
- of general measures, preventing similar violations;
DECLARES, having examined the measures taken by the respondent state (see Appendix), that it has exercised its functions under Article 46, paragraph 2, of the Convention in this case and
DECIDES to close the examination of this case.
Appendix to Resolution CM/ResDH(2009)127
Information about the measures to comply with the judgment in the case of
Peers against Greece
Introductory case summary
This case concerns the conditions of the applicant's detention in 1994, in Korydallos men's prison, which in the European Court's view amounted to degrading treatment (violation of Article 3). The Court observed in particular that, for at least two months, the applicant had been obliged to spend a major part of each day on his bed in a windowless and unventilated cell in which the heat sometimes became unbearable. The case also concerns the opening by the prison administration of letters addressed to him by the Secretariat of the former European Commission of Human Rights, a measure considered by the Court as unnecessary in a democratic society (violation of Article 8).
I. Payment of just satisfaction and individual measures
a) Details of just satisfaction
Costs and expenses
5 000 000 GRD
5 000 000 GRD
Paid on 16/07/2001
b) Individual measures
The applicant is no longer detained in Greece. He was expelled in 1998.
II. General measures
1) Violation of Article 8: The Penitentiary Code (Art 53 §§ 4 and 7 of Law 2776/1999) now offers sufficient safeguards for the protection of prisoners' correspondence. Article 53§4 expressly prohibits any control of prisoners' correspondence and any other form of communication, safe when such a control is justified by national security reasons or related to particularly serious offences. According to Article 53§7, when a restriction is imposed on correspondence or communications, the prisoner may appeal to the competent judge pursuant to Law No. 2225/1994 on freedom of correspondence and communication.
2) Violation of Article 3
Construction of new prisons: The construction of new prisons forms part of an overall reform to modernise the penitentiary system as a whole. The first phase was completed at the end of 2007. It consisted in the construction of seven prisons, with a total capacity of 2700 places, of which one was opened in Trikala in June 2006, three others have been in operation since 2008 in Domokos, Grevena and Thiva, and three more will be in operation before the end of 2009 in Drama, Serres and Chania. Furthemore, two new wings with a capacity of 56 and 24 places respectively will be operational before the end of 2009 in the Diavata and Larissa prisons.
The second phase of this programme, which began on schedule in 2008, foresees the construction of five new prisons with a total capacity of 4000 places. During this phase the prisons of Lassithi (Crete), Kassavetia, St John of Corinth and Diavata will be replaced by new prisons. The authorities indicated that these new prisons are being built in accordance with international standards. In addition, important renovation work has been carried out in many prisons.
Once new prisons had been built, prisoners from Korydallos, the prison at issue in the present case, were transferred to Trikala and the recently opened establishment at Domokos, which has also received transfers from Komotini, Chios and Thessaloniki. Likewise, 350 women prisoners from Korydallos will be sent to the new prison at Thiva. The remaining detainees serving sentences in Korydallos will be transferred to the new prison in Grevena. There are few prisoners left in Korrydalos, most of them being men detained on remand. The prosecutor supervising this prison found that the conditions in the solitary confinement units have considerably improved as a result of the new sanitary equipment and the activity schedules for prisoners that allow them to meet outside their cells every day.
Special measures for preventing prison overpopulation
- Law 3388/2005 provides, inter alia, that the reception capacity of operating prisons should not exceed 300 detainees, while in the future, new prisons' capacity should not exceed 400;
- Law 3346/2005 provides for the conditional release of detainees who have served a part of their sentence. Since its adoption, 400 detainees have benefited from this measure ;
- decision 138317/2005 of the Justice Minister introduced the possibility of community service as alternative measure to imprisonment.;
- decision 8508/2005 of the Justice Minister allowed the transfer of 650 detainees to agricultural prisons which are less crowded;
- as 35% of prisoners are foreigners, a programme to enable them to serve their sentences in their countries of origin is underway.
- a new law concerning in particular the “improvement of conditions of detention and the reduction of prison population density” was adopted on 18 December 2008. By virtue of this law , approximately 5500 prisoners will be released in 2009, in particular prisoners that have been sentenced to less than 5 years' imprisonment or prisoners whose prison sentences can be commuted to other penalties. Moreover, the maximum length of detention on remand has been reduced. As a result, the total number of prisoners is expected to be lowered to 6 815 for an actual prison capacity of 8 243 places. In January 2009, 589 prisoners were released on the basis of this law including 27 who were detained in the Korydallos prison.
Training of prison staff: In 2005 125 prison surveillance staff members took part in seminars on the treatment of detainees.
Effective domestic remedy against detention conditions: Article 6 of Law 2776/1999 (Penitentiary Code) and Ministerial Decree No. 58819/2003 grant any prisoner the right complain regarding the conditions of detention before the prison authorities and in particular the prosecutor/supervisor of the prison. If the complaint is rejected, detainees may challenge this decision under Articles 6 and 86 of Law 2776/1999 before the competent enforcement tribunal. National courts' case-law demonstrates that requests to the prison council and appeals to enforcement tribunals may relate to conditions of detention in prison such as the size of the cell, the quality of ventilation or heating systems, means of communication with third parties (cf. decisions 2075/2002 and 175/2003 of the Indictment Chamber of the Piraeus Criminal Court).
Moreover, Article 572 of the Code of Criminal Procedure sets out a right to complain to the prosecutor responsible for the enforcement of sentences and security measures who is required to visit the prison at least once a week. In accordance with Article 7 of Ministerial Decree 58819/2003, detainees have the right to seek information from the competent prosecutor concerning the various steps they can take and appeals available in respect of their conditions of detention.
The European Court found these remedies effective and sufficient for the purposes of Article 35 of the Convention, having declared several complaints about detention conditions inadmissible on account of their not having been exhausted (Gehre against Greece, decision of 5/07/2007, Vaden against Greece, judgment of 29/03/2007 and Tsivis against Greece, judgment of 6/12/2007).
Continuing improvement of prison conditions: The authorities have indicated their firm commitment to implementing the series of measures described above. Their efforts to improve detention conditions in prisons will be continued, especially within the framework of their co-operation with the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and in the light of its recommendations.
III. Conclusions of the respondent state
The government considers that the measures adopted have fully remedied the consequences for the applicant of the violations of the Convention found by the European Court in this case, that these measures will prevent new, similar violations and that Greece has thus complied with its obligations under Article 46, paragraph 1, of the Convention.
1 Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 3 December 2009 at the 1072nd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies