Belashev v. Russia

Belashev v. Russia
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A Russian national filed a claim against the Russian government for violating his rights under Article 3 (inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) when he was subjected to poor conditions during his imprisonment.

The applicant was arrested, convicted on criminal charges and sentenced to over 10.5 years of detention. He complained that the sanitary conditions, installations, food and medical assistance were unsatisfactory, dating from 19 April 2002 to 11 April 2003, in his detention facility in Moscow. He claimed the cells had been over-crowded, separated from the lavatory pan by just a partition and that he had not been treated adequately for a skin condition, which deteriorated his skin so severely that he was transferred to the prison hospital. He started to receive treatment only after he complained to various officials.

Additionally, the applicant alleged a violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) and Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the ECHR.

The Court found a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Indeed, the Court concluded that the applicant had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment on account of the conditions of his detention.

Based on its case-law on the subject and the material submitted by the parties, the Court found that the Government had not put forward any fact or argument capable of persuading the Court to reach a different conclusion in the present case. Although there is no indication that there was a positive intention to humiliate or debase the applicant, the fact that the applicant was obliged to live, sleep and use the toilet in the same cell as so many other inmates for almost a year was itself sufficient for the Court to find the applicant experienced distress or hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention, and to arouse in him feelings of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing him. The Court also found the length of the applicant's detention constituted a violation of Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the ECHR

"59. Furthermore, while in the present case it cannot be established "beyond reasonable doubt" that the ventilation, heating, lighting or sanitary conditions in the facilities were unacceptable from the standpoint of Article 3, the Court nonetheless notes that the cell windows had been covered with metal shutters blocking access to fresh air and natural light. They were removed some time towards the end of 2002, that is more than seven months after the applicant's detention in that facility had begun. In addition, the Court observes that the applicant was diagnosed with a serious skin disease in the facility and that it appears most likely that he was infected while in detention. Although this fact in itself does not imply a violation of Article 3 given, in particular, the fact that the applicant received treatment (see Alver v. Estonia, no. 64812/01, § 54, 8 November 2005, and Igor Ivanov, cited above, § 40) and that he fully recovered, the Court considers that these aspects, while not in themselves capable of justifying the notion of "degrading" treatment, are relevant in addition to the focal factor of the severe overcrowding, to show that the applicant's detention conditions went beyond the threshold tolerated by Article 3 of the Convention (see Novoselov v. Russia, no. 66460/01, § 44, 2 June 2005)."