Grishin v. Russia

Download Judgment: English
Country: Russia
Year: 2008
Court: The European Court of Human Rights
Health Topics: Chronic and noncommunicable diseases, Disabilities, Health care and health services, Medicines, Prisons
Human Rights: Freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

The applicant was a Russian national who had been suspected of instigating a murder and arrested. He was released on bail a year after his arrest. After his release, the media reported that he was a criminal. Three months later, the applicant was convicted of the charge and sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment and four years later, he was released on parole.

During his arrest, the applicant was diagnosed with ischaemic heart disease, exertional angina, hypertension, myopia and chronic bronchitis. In less than a year, he was diagnosed with second-degree hypertension, cardiac ischaemia, cardiac angina, high‑degree myopia, second-degree encephalopathy and a second to third-degree prostate adenoma; he was recommended with the necessary medication for these. He was hospitalized and treated a number of times. At some point, the applicant requested the trial court to adjourn the trial due to his stated of health for which the court had ordered an examination of the applicant’s condition by a panel of medical personnel. The panel concluded that the applicant was fit to stand trial and the court dismissed his request for adjournment.

At a later time, the applicant was diagnosed with cerebral blood supply disturbance (stroke) leading to limited function of his right arm, memory impairment, third‑degree myopia, ischaemic heart disease, exertional angina, hypertension and chronic bronchitis. A year before his release, the applicant was given a temporary release and was examined by a urologist who had recommended an operation on his prostate adenoma.

The applicant lodged his claim to the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) stating that claimed that he had been beaten and badly treated by investigators and later by prison inmates several times resulting in damage to his health, in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). The government contended this claim and argued that the applicant hadn’t been ill-treated by investigators nor by prison inmates and that there was no showing from his medical record as to the health damage he allegedly suffered. The applicant claimed that medications were not allowed in prison and he had to take certain medications from the prison’s facility when he was on emergency. The government denied this allegation and stated that the applicant was allowed to keep his medications with him all the time due to his state of health.

The applicant’s wife complained to the prosecution’s office regarding the unlawful search investigator  had conducted and his manner while questioning her. She also complained that the way the applicant had been treated in detention amounted to ill-treatment. The prosecutor’s office dismissed her complaint as unfounded stating that the applicant had been provided with the necessary medical treatment and was in no way subjected to ill-treatment.

The applicant claimed that he had suffered injuries during his arrest in one of the cells in prison which had contributed to his cerebral disorder. For the first two years of his detention, he had been detained in crowded cells with no sufficient light and ventilation, insufficient time for shower, cockroaches and blood‑sucking insects were over spread in the cells, unsanitary toilet where anyone could watch when used by an inmate and very close to the dining table.

The government submitted that there were walls in the toilets that were used to preserve inmates privacy, sufficient shower time was given, daily checks were conducted on the applicant for lice and none were found throughout, and there were sufficient light and ventilation in cells. In their statements, the applicant’s inmates explained that the applicant had been teased by inmates as he had to clean himself in front of  inmates every time he used the toilet in addition to his sufferings; their submissions also supported the applicant’s allegations as to the light and ventilation.

The applicant complained that he hadn’t been provided with adequate medical care as his conditions required; monitoring by encephalography, CT scan and neurosonograph hadn’t been conducted , and an operation for the prostate adenoma hadn’t been performed. Medications were unavailable to him in prison that his family had to provide them and he couldn’t access the medications at night in which case he had risked damage to his health including death. He also claimed that he hadn’t been treated for the certain conditions he had and hadn’t been provided with physiotherapy his condition required.

The government argued that the applicant had been provided with adequate and appropriate medical assistance his condition had required through out his detention. The operation on prostate adenoma hadn’t been carried out because the examining specialist only recommended medication and not surgery; the hospital at the prison was well equipped to perform surgeries. The government argued that no medication had been taken away from the applicant and he had access to the emergency medical care through out his detention.

The ECHR noted that the applicant hadn't challenged before domestic authorities his complaints regarding the ill-treatment he allegedly faced and thus found his complaint before the ECHR to be ill-founded and dismissed it.

The ECHR noted that the applicant's claim in relation to the treatments and examinations his condition had required hadn't been supported by an expert opinion or a medical record. The applicant also didn't indicate a time when he hadn't been provided with emergency care or he needed his medications at night and couldn't get them. The ECHR held that it had no ground to conclude that the applicant hasn't been provided with adequate medical care his state of health needed as a result of which his conditions got worse and made him suffer any more than they could have in the normal course of treatments; the ECHR dismissed the applicant's claim.

The ECHR found that the applicant had been detained under crowded and insanitary conditions with insufficient light and ventilation, conditions "beyond the threshold tolerated by Article 3 of the Convention". [Para. 96] It had thus found the conditions of his detention degrading, constituting a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

The ECHR awarded pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages to the applicant.


" order to fall under Article 3, ill-treatment must be at least marginally severe. This margin is relative and depends, for example, on the duration of a particular treatment, on its physical and mental effects and on the victim’s sex, age, and health.......the suffering and humiliation involved must in any event go beyond that inevitable element of suffering or humiliation connected with a given form of legitimate treatment or punishment ...... Measures depriving a person of his liberty may often involve such an element." [Para. 70]