Hajol v. Poland

Hajol v. Poland, Application No. 1127/06, Eur. Ct. H.R. (2010).
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The applicant, Pawel Hajol, had been suffering from several illnesses including diabetes, arterial hypertension, and cirrhosis of the liver when he was arrested in 2004 for attempting to influence a trial during the exercise of his function as a prosecutor. The District Court of Krakow placed the applicant in provisional detention while authorities gathered evidence. Despite medical reports warning the district court of risks to the applicant’s health, the district court considered that his health condition could not by itself justify his release. The district court repeatedly extended the applicant’s provisional detention. The applicant subsequently argued that the respondent State failed to provide permanent medical assistance while in custody despite the requests of medical experts. In addition, the applicant alleged that the delay in providing him treatment had caused the deterioration of his health condition, including an increase in his weight.

The applicant filed a request against the Republic of Poland in the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that he was remanded in custody despite his preoccupying state of health, in violation of the freedom from torture, inhumane and cruel treatment enshrined in Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (Convention). Further, the applicant claimed that the length of custody was in breach of the right to liberty and security of the person established in Article 5(3) of the Convention.

The Government claimed that they followed the report of the medical experts, which indicated that the health conditions of the applicant were not incompatible with his detention. Further the government argued that the quality of the treatment provided was considered sufficient by the medical experts and that the applicant received all the required treatment. Finally, the Government argued that the length of the detention was not in violation of Article 5(3) of the European Convention because of the gravity of the charges against him and the existence of a public interest.

The Court observed that Article 3 of the European Convention did not imply a general obligation for the State of releasing a detainee who is sick. However, the Court reaffirmed that this article protected the physical integrity of the persons deprived of liberty and that in certain situations this could imply measures of humanitarian nature, such as a transfer to a hospital. In this case, despite the various and important health conditions suffered by the applicant, the Court did not find that they justified release. The Court referred to the medical report, which concluded that the applicant could remain in custody with an adequate treatment. Therefore, the Court held that there was no violation of Article 3 of the European Convention.

Further, the Court observed that according to Article 5(3), the State may not detain an individual for an unreasonable period of time without analyzing all the surrounding circumstances, such as the public interest and the elements of the case. However, after a certain amount of time of detention, the Court must establish whether the reasons justifying the detention were still present. In this case, the Court found that the Government had based their decision on adequate evidence and potential risk that the applicant would try to contact his accomplice in case of release. Also, the Court considered that the national authorities had reviewed the necessity of the applicant's detention periodically. Therefore, the Court held that there was no violation of Article 5(3) of the European Convention.

"59. La Cour rappelle que, s'agissant de personnes privées de liberté, l'article 3 impose à l'État l'obligation positive de s'assurer (...) eu égard aux exigences pratiques de l'emprisonnement, la santé et le bien-être du prisonnier sont assurés de manière adéquate, notamment par l'administration des soins médicaux requis (Kud!a c. Pologne [GC], no 30210/96, § 94, 26 octobre 2000; Rivière c. France, no 33834/03, § 62, 11 juillet 2006)."

"60. Les conditions de détention d'une personne malade doivent garantir la protection de la santé du prisonnier, eu égard aux contingences ordinaires et raisonnables de l'emprisonnement. Si l'on ne peut en déduire une obligation générale de remettre en liberté ou bien de transférer dans un hôpital civil un détenu, même si ce dernier souffre d'une maladie particulièrement difficile à soigner (Mouisel c. France, no 67263/01, 14 novembre 2002, § 40), l'article 3 de la Convention impose en tout cas à l'État de protéger l'intégrité physique des personnes privées de liberté. La Cour ne saurait exclure que, dans des conditions particulièrement graves, l'on puisse se trouver en présence de situations où une bonne administration de la justice pénale exige que des mesures de nature humanitaire soient prises pour y parer (Matencio c. France, no 58749/00, § 76, 15 janvier 2004 ; Sakkopoulos c. Grèce, no 61828/00, § 38, 15 janvier 2004)."

"84. La persistance de raisons plausibles de soupçonner la personne arrêtée d'avoir commis une infraction est une condition sine qua non de la régularité du maintien en détention, mais au bout d'un certain temps elle ne suffit plus ; la Cour doit alors établir si les autres motifs adoptés par les autorités judiciaires continuent à légitimer la privation de liberté."

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