Valeriy Samoylov v. Russia

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The applicant was a Russian national who had been convicted of large scale embezzlement in an organized criminal group and abuse of power. After the investigation in to the crime began, an order by the investigator prohibited the applicant from leaving town and behave good as he had failed to comply with summons for interviews and wasn’t found at his address before. His name was also put in the Federal Wanted List.

On a date fixed for the interview he had been summoned for, the applicant was admitted to a town hospital and later transferred to Military hospital.  Mean while, the applicant’s lawyer requested for the applicant’s name to be removed from the Federal Wanted List. In 24 April 2008’s afternoon, the applicant had been arrested and taken to the investigation department from the hospital. The record stated the facts that the arrest was effected as per the Criminal Procedure Code as the applicant was identified by eyewitnesses as a perpetrator of the crime, his name was in the Federal Wanted List, and had attempted to avoid prosecution. The applicant wrote on the record stating that he didn’t try to escape prosecution as he was living at his address and hadn’t been identified as a perpetrator by eyewitnesses. That day, the applicant had been investigated, in his counsel’s presence, until midnight. Among other things in relation to the crime, the applicant stated that he had been taken out of the hospital with force and wanted to be re-admitted for medical care.

The investigator then requested the Zamoskvoretskiy District Court of Moscow for authorization of the continued detention of the applicant. The court granted the request; it had based its decision on the gravity and generousness of the crime and the circumstances surrounding the case. It also found it likely that the applicant would abscond and in many ways interfere with justice if released. The applicant appealed with the City Court alleging the court’s failure to consider evidences regarding the claim of his avoiding prosecution. He stated that the investigators could track his whereabouts from his cell phone and he had the obligation to respond to them due to his witness status that they had no reason detain him. The district court’s order was upheld.

At the hearing of the case, the investigator requested the district court for an extended detention for one month of the applicant alleging that the defendants needed time to study the files of the case and the grounds for detention were still present. The court granted the request and based its decision on same reasons, the gravity of the offense and the applicant’s name being on the wanted persons list. Then after, both the district and the city courts extended the applicant’s detention at different periods for similar reasons. The city court’s order for extension of detention had also been upheld by the Supreme court. Soon after, the city court extended the applicant’s and his co-defendants’ detention, refusing bail for all reasons including state of health. The applicant appealed to the supreme court stating that his detention could not be extended for more than 12 months under the Criminal Procedure Code. The supreme court upheld the detention order. Trial began at the city court which had refused release to the defendants on the same grounds as before. The supreme court again upheld the order on appeal; the applicant was convicted after a month.

In 2008 right before his detention, the applicant had been diagnosed with several diseases; namely quincke’s oedema, chronic recurrent nettle rash, intolerance to a number of drugs, focal bulbitis, non-atrophic gastritis, chronic gastroduodenitis, symptoms of hepatitis, chronic hypertensive encephalopathy and asthenic syndrome, coronary heart disease, exertional angina (pectoris), high blood pressure, kidney maldevelopment, oesophagal hernia, and bronchitis. While he was being interviewed by the investigators on April 24 2008, the applicant had a hypertensive attack for which the investigator had to call emergency treatment and he hadn’t been provided with medical assistance during his temporary detention after the interview. After his arrest, the applicant complained to the investigation authorities that the medical assistance he was receiving was inadequate. His complaints were dismissed on the ground that he was receiving the medical care his state of health required. The result of the examination he underwent at the remand center stated that his state of health was satisfactory; the applicant received medication for his chronic conditions and remained under medical supervision. Months later, he was examined for double vision and dizziness, and prescribed medications which he claimed was scarce that he didn’t receive it.

The applicant also complained that he hadn’t been examined by specialists of different fields including an allergist. The investigations department responded to the applicant’s complaints referring to the results of his examination at the remand center that found his state of health satisfactory. It also notified the applicant to request treatment and challenge its refusal before prosecutor or court. In December 2009, the deputy chair of the psychotherapy and narcology department of a Moscow university stated, on the applicant’s request, that the applicant needed examination and treatment by specialists and should take his medications in supervision of a professional; in the absence of such treatment, the applicant could face an irreversible health damage and worsened chronic conditions that could result in disability or death. The applicant was examined and treated for different complaint of illness at the hospital in the remand center after that time.

The applicant lodged his complaint before the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) alleging a violation of Article 3 of the European  Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) because the government failed to provide appropriate medical assistance for him in detention. He alleged that he shouldn’t have been arrested given the conditions of his health, that he  hadn’t been provided with medical care on the first days of his detention and with specialist care after his arrest. The recommendations made during his treatment in hospital regarding his conditions had also not been effected after he was discharged to the remand center.

The government argued that the applicant had been provided with the necessary medical treatment, followup and supervision at the prison’s hospital and the remand center. Because the applicant had been under satisfactory health condition after his discharge from hospital, there was no need to provide him with special diet and the standard diet for inmates was compatible with his conditions.

The ECHR noted that the applicant had made contradicting statements regarding his lack of adequate medical treatment on the day he was arrested and thus held that it was not possible to determine he was actually denied treatment on that day. It reiterated that Article 3 of the Convention didn't impose an obligation on the government not to detain or to release the applicant on account of his health status and the interruption of his treatment in detention didn't constitute a violation as long as the necessary medical care was arranged to be provided in detention.

The ECHR noted that the applicant's complaint regarding his lack of supervision by medical professional had been dismissed by national authorities as  unfounded and held that there was no reason for the ECHR to consider them particularly when it hadn't been proceeded with domestic courts. The ECHR also found that the applicant's claim on the insufficiency of the treatment hadn't been substantiated or supported by evidence. It thus considered that the authorities had arranged for the appropriate medical care to be provided for the applicant during his arrest.

The ECHR also noted that the applicant failed to demonstrate a failure from the side of the authorities leading to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention and thus held that there was no violation of the provision.

The ECHR held that the government hadn't substantiated the risk that the applicant would interfere with justice or obstructing proceedings if not detained. Domestic authorities also failed to make an assessment of the risk that the applicant would commit offenses if released and the ECHR wasn't convinced on this ground. Because the authorities failed to justify the extended detention of the applicant for more than 2 years, they had violated Article 5(3) of the Convention. 

" Where complaints are made of failure to provide requisite medical assistance in detention, it is not essential for such a failure to lead to any medical emergency or otherwise cause severe or prolonged pain in order to find that a detainee has been subjected to treatment incompatible with the guarantees of Article 3...... The fact that a detainee needed and requested such assistance but it was unavailable to him may, in certain circumstances, suffice to reach a conclusion that such treatment was in breach of that Article... Thus, although Article 3 cannot be interpreted as laying down a general obligation to release a detainee on health grounds save for exceptional cases ...., a lack of appropriate medical treatment may raise an issue under Article 3, even if the applicant’s state of health does not require his immediate release." [Para. 76 and 77]

"The national authorities must ensure that diagnosis and care in detention facilities, including prison hospitals, are prompt and accurate, and that, where necessitated by the nature of a medical condition, supervision is regular and involves a comprehensive therapeutic strategy aimed at ensuring the detainee’s recovery or at least preventing his or her condition from worsening...." [Para. 78]

"At the same time, the Court considers that an unsubstantiated allegation of no or unsatisfactory medical care is normally insufficient to disclose an issue under Article 3 of the Convention. A credible complaint should normally include, among other things, sufficient reference to the medical condition in question, related medical prescriptions and recommendations which were sought, made or refused, as well as some evidence – for instance, expert reports – capable of disclosing serious failings in the applicant’s medical care." [Para. 80]