CASE OF SAYEROV v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 33071/12)
7 February 2017
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Sayerov v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Pere Pastor Vilanova,
Georgios A. Serghides, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 17 January 2017,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 33071/12) 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 Nikolay Gennadyevich Sayerov (“the applicant”), on 12 May 2012.
2. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, the Representative to the Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights.
3. On 28 March 2013 the application was communicated to the Government.
4. The applicant was born in 1963 and is currently serving his term of imprisonment in Nizhniy Tagil.
5. Since 12 June 2011 the applicant waited trial in remand prison IZ-21/2 in the Republic of Chuvashiya. According to him, between 15 June 2011 and 15 April 2012 he was transported by prison van on approximately one hundred occasions between the remand prison and temporary detention facility of Cheboksary (IVS) which was the closest secure facility to the court building. Although on some rare occasions the applicant was alone in the van, during other trips he was either placed in a single occupancy cell measuring 0.25 sq. m or remained on his feet because there were no free seats. There were no toilets in the vans, prisoners used plastic bottles. On the days of transport, the applicant did not receive food rations. Lengthy check-in and check-out procedures resulted in two-hour wait at either facility with inmates staying inside vans. The applicant submitted a certificate issued by the remand prison governor showing the dates of his transport.
6. The Government provided a description of the applicant’s conditions of transport, relying on transport logs concerning fifty-five trips, photographs of the vans, and two certificates issued by the Ministry of Interior of the Republic. One of the certificates lacked references to any original documentation and mentioned fifty-five trips and the one referred to “extracts from the prisoner transport logs” and listed sixty-six trips on different dates. The Government stated that they could not provide the full information about the conditions of the applicant’s transport. They added that the applicant was transported on fifty-five occasions in total, on thirteen of which he was in the van alone. The number of prisoners did not exceed the maximum capacity of vans, an average trip lasted 35-40 minutes, some of the vans were equipped with toilets, and the applicant was provided with dry food rations.
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 OF THE CONVENTION
7. The applicant complained that the conditions of his transport had been 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.”
8. The Government submitted that the conditions of transport were in compliance with the standards required under Article 3 of the Convention.
9. The applicant maintained that the data provided by the Government were incomplete and that he had effected twice as many trips by prison van as the number given by the Government.
10. The Court notes that this 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.
11. The Court reiterates that it has examined the issue of inhuman and degrading conditions of detention in many cases against Russia (see Khudoyorov v. Russia, no. 6847/02, §§ 117-119, ECHR 2005-X (extracts); Guliyev v. Russia, no. 24650/02, §§ 61-69, 19 June 2008; Starokadomskiy v. Russia, no. 42239/02, §§ 55-60, 31 July 2008; and Idalov v. Russia ([GC], no. 5826/03, §§ 103-108, 22 May 2012). It established in particular that transporting detainees in crammed prison vans was impermissible, irrespective of the duration and that a lack of appropriate food on the days of transport was an aggravating factor (see Khudoyorov, cited above, § 118, and Starokadomskiy, cited above, §§ 55 and 58).
12. Similar elements are obtaining in the instant case. The parties disagreed on the number of trips to which the applicant had been subjected, and official documents contained inconsistent and mutually exclusive information on the number and dates of such trips: the certificate from the prison governor submitted by the applicant contradicted the certificate from the Ministry of the Interior produced by the Government. It can however be established with certainty that the applicant was transported by prison van on at least fifty occasions. On those days he was confined to a solitary cell which appears to have afforded even less personal space than that what was available to the applicants in the above-mentioned cases where a violation of Article 3 was found. Even assuming that the Government’s submission on the duration of the actual travel time was correct, the aggravating impact of the lengthy check-in and check-out procedures cannot be gainsaid. The negative effects of the crammed conditions of transport must have increased in proportion to the time the applicant stayed inside the vehicle.
13. The above considerations are sufficient for the Court to conclude that the applicant was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention during his transfer between the remand prison and the IVS.
II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
14. 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.”
15. The applicant asked the Court to determine the amount of compensation in respect of non-pecuniary damage. The Government also left the determination of the amount of just satisfaction at the Court’s discretion.
16. The Court awards the applicant 5,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable.
17. 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. Declares the application admissible;
2. 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 5,000 (five thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable, to be converted into the national 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.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 7 February 2017, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Branko Lubarda
Deputy Registrar President