Hummatov v. Azerbaijan

Application No. 9852/03 and 13413/04
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The applicant, a politician was arrested and detained in a detention centre. He was accused of treason and use of armed forces against the State. The applicant absconded and went into hiding but was caught and arrested. The applicant alleged that he was ill-treated and not allowed to see a doctor during the period of pre-trial detention. He stated that his wife and son were ill-treated too and therefore had to tender self-incriminating evidence. His wife and son had to further leave the country and sought for asylum in Netherlands.

He was convicted and sentenced to death penalty. He was transferred to Bayil prison, which was designated for death penalty convicts. Following the amendment of the Criminal Code, which abolished death penalty, all death penalty sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. The applicant was kept in the Bayil Prison. He alleges that the prison conditions were harsh and the prison authorities beat the prisoners frequently. He was kept in a cell with inmates who were already seriously ill. He further stated that he developed several serious medical conditions such as tuberculosis, hypertension and atherocardiosclerosis. He stated that despite his serious condition, he did not get adequate treatment. He was later on transferred to Gobustan Prison, which was designated for life imprisonment prisoners.

The Court held that there was a violation of Article 3 (prohibiting torture, and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment). The Court looked at all the medical records and stated that the evidence showed that the patient suffered from a number of serious medical conditions. It further stated that the fact that the applicant suffered from these ailments till the time of release indicates the lack of medical care. The records did not indicate that the applicant was treated with a comprehensive therapeutic strategy and was attended to doctors on a systematic and regular base. Further, there was evidence to show that the applicant was not given medicines on a regular basis.

The Court further held that there was a violation of Article 13 of the Convention (effective remedy before a national authority) as the Government could not show that the applicant was given a legal recourse and remedy, which was effective in law and practice.

The Court also held that Article 6 (fair and public hearing) had been violated as one of the hearings took place in the prison and the general public had no access to it. The Government stated that the media and public had been duly informed but provided no evidence to support the same.

The medical records indicate that, at the time of the Convention's entry into force, the applicant still suffered from a number of serious medical conditions including inter alia chronic bronchopneumonia, chronic enterocolitis, radiculitis, hypertension, atherocardiosclerosis, internal haemorrhoids, stenocardia, ischemia, and osteochondrosis. He continued to suffer from focal tuberculosis which, according to the prison doctors, was no longer active since his in-patient treatment but, according to the HCA Opinion, acquired a chronic character with the possibility of relapse (see paragraph 59 above). The available evidence shows that the applicant became ill with the majority, if not all, of these diseases at one point or another during his imprisonment. The fact that the applicant suffered from such a large number of serious ailments and continued to complain about health problems until his release in September 2004 indicates that he still needed regular medical care during the period falling within the Court's competence ratione temporis.” (Para 112)

The prison records submitted by the Government indicate that the applicant had been attended to a number of times throughout the years 2002 and 2004 and had been prescribed medication. However, it does not appear that the applicant was attended by doctors on a regular or systematic basis. On the contrary, it appears that, on many occasions, the applicant was attended to only after he complained about the lack of systematic attention and specifically requested to see a doctor. The treatment prescribed to him was mainly symptomatic and there is no indication that there was a comprehensive therapeutic strategy aimed at curing his diseases.” (Para 114)

“In addition, although the prison doctors' journal submitted by the Government indicates that on a number of occasions the applicant was given certain medicines in the years 2001 to 2003, the Court accepts the applicant's statement that he was not always provided with the medicines prescribed to him and had to rely on his relatives to obtain them…” (Para 117)