z dnia 20 stycznia 2015 r.
Application no. 47775/10
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 20 January 2015 as a Chamber composed of:
Josep Casadevall, President,
Luis López Guerra,
Iulia Antoanella Motoc, judges,
and Stephen Phillips, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 27 July 2010,
Having regard to the decision of 4 October 2011,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
1. The applicant, Mr Ioan Tomoiagă, is a Romanian national, who was born in 1963 and lives in Pecica. He was represented before the Court by Mr A. Fanu Moca, a lawyer practising in Timişoara.
2. The Romanian Government ("the Government") were represented by their Co-Agent, Ms I. Cambrea, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A. The circumstances of the case
3. The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
4. The applicant was placed in pre-trial detention on 26 March 2010 in the Arad Police detention facilities. On 19 July 2010 he was convicted of corruption committed in the exercise of his duty as a police officer and sentenced to three years' imprisonment by the Arad County Court.
1. Material conditions of detention as described by the applicant
5. Between 26 March and 20 April 2010 the applicant was detained in the Arad Police detention facilities in a cell measuring 12 sq m together with two other prisoners. The window was very small and could not be opened from the inside. Access to the toilets was allowed twice per day. The mattress on his bed was worn out and the food was of very poor quality.
6. On 20 April 2010 the applicant was transferred to Arad Prison where he remained until 13 January 2011. He shared a cell measuring 16 sq m with four other prisoners and the food was of very poor quality and served in unhygienic conditions. The applicant also alleged that he had been transported to court hearings before the Arad County Court in old vans, in overcrowded and overheated conditions.
2 The Government's account
7. In the Arad Police detention facilities the applicant shared a cell measuring 12 sq m with two other prisoners who were also in pre-trial detention. The cell had two windows each measuring 86 cm by 55 cm which could be opened from the outside at the prisoners' request or by the prisoners themselves by pushing the windows towards the exterior. The sanitary facilities and toilets were accessible twice per day for the morning and evening routine. In addition, access to the toilets was granted whenever necessary, upon request, between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. For the rest of the time a night pot was available in the cell. The prisoners had the right to a sixty-minute daily walk.
8. In Arad Prison the applicant was detained in a cell measuring 15.37 sq m. For certain periods of time he shared the cell with one, two or three other prisoners. The cell had a hallway, a separate bathroom with toilet and shower and a sleeping area. In terms of furniture, the cell contained five beds and bedside tables, a table for eating, chairs, shelves and a wardrobe. The prison had central heating; the temperature in the cells during the winter ranged from 20 to 22oC. The applicant had the right to three hours' walk a day and, during his stay in Arad Prison, he participated in two educational activities and two sports activities (such as football during the month of October 2011). The applicant had been transported to and from the courts in accordance with the relevant legal provisions.
9. The Government emphasised that the applicant had never complained before the prison authorities about his conditions of detention or transportation.
B. Relevant reports of human rights organisations and international standards
10. Excerpts from the relevant parts of the General Reports of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment ("the CPT"), as well as of the European Prison Rules adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 11 January 2006, are quoted in Iacov Stanciu v. Romania (no. 35972/05, §§ 121-24, 24 July 2012).
11. The applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention that the conditions of his detention in the Arad Police facilities and subsequently in Arad Prison had been inhuman.
12. The applicant complained that he had been held in inhuman conditions in the Arad Police detention facilities and subsequently in Arad Prison, in breach of Article 3 of the Convention. In particular, he complained of overcrowding, limited access to the toilet, poor food quality and hygiene, and transportation in overcrowded and unventilated vans.
Article 3 of the Convention reads as follows:
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
13. The Government started by raising a preliminary objection, namely that the applicant had not exhausted all available domestic remedies since he had not complained of the alleged inhuman conditions of detention before the competent national authorities.
14. The Government proceeded by referring to the information submitted with respect to the applicant's conditions of detention (see paragraphs 7-8 above) and contended that he had been held in adequate conditions. They further argued that he had not proved beyond reasonable doubt the alleged breach of Article 3 and requested the Court to reject his complaint as unsubstantiated.
15. The applicant did not reply to the Government's submissions.
16. The Court does not consider it necessary to examine the Government's non-exhaustion objection as the complaint is in any event inadmissible for the following reasons.
17. The Court reiterates that under Article 3 of the Convention the State must ensure that a person is detained in conditions which are compatible with respect for his human dignity, that the manner and method of execution of the measure of detention do not subject the person to distress or hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention and that, given the practical demands of imprisonment, his health and well–being are adequately secured (see Valašinas v. Lithuania, no. 44558/98, § 102, ECHR 2001–VIII, and Kudła v. Poland [GC], no. 30210/96, § 94, ECHR 2000-XI).
18. When assessing conditions of detention, account has to be taken of the cumulative effects of those conditions, as well as of specific allegations made by the applicant (see Dougoz v. Greece, no. 40907/98, § 46, ECHR 2001-II).
19. The Court further notes that, besides overcrowding, the following cumulative conditions of detention have been found to raise an issue under Article 3 of the Convention: a lack of appropriate furniture in the cells; poor sanitary facilities, such as a limited number of toilets and sinks for a large number of detainees; poor sanitary conditions in general, including the presence of cockroaches, rats, lice and bedbugs; worn-out mattresses and bed linen; and poor quality food (see Iacov Stanciu, cited above, § 175).
20. Turning to the facts of the present case, the Court notes that the applicant was detained first for twenty-five days in the detention facilities of Arad Police and then for eight months and twenty-four days in Arad Prison.
21. The Court further notes that in his application form the applicant argued that he had been detained in overcrowded conditions for the entire period he had spent in the above-mentioned places of detention. In this connection, the Court notes that it is not disputed between the parties that during the first period of detention the applicant had available 4 sq m of personal space, which does not fall short of the desirable standard recommended by the CPT in respect of multiple occupancy cells. In Arad Prison, however, the applicant argued that he had shared a cell measuring 16 sq m with four other prisoners, which amounted to 3.2 sq m of personal space. The Government in turn argued that the applicant's personal space had only occasionally been limited to 3.8 sq m. Following the communication of the case to the Government, the applicant did not contest the Government's submissions in that respect. The Court, therefore, does not need to settle the differences between the parties' submissions, having accepted the Government's description of the size of the cells and the number of prisoners, as well as the minimum space available to the applicant of 3.8 sq m for certain periods of time.
22. The Court reiterates that detainees should have at their disposal at least four square metres of personal space in order not to fall short of the standards imposed by its case-law (see Flămînzeanu v. Romania, no. 56664/08, §§ 92 and 98, 12 April 2011; and Cotleţ v. Romania (No. 2), no. 49549/11, § 34, 1 October 2013). In establishing whether or not in the specific circumstances of a case the overcrowding was severe enough to justify in its own right a finding of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention, other aspects of the physical conditions of detention may be taken into account (see, for example, Lind v. Russia, no. 25664/05, §§ 59 and 61, 6 December 2007; and Kokoshkina v. Russia, no. 2052/08, § 62, 28 May 2009). Such elements include the availability of ventilation, access to natural light or air, adequacy of heating arrangements, compliance with basic sanitary requirements and the possibility of using the toilet in private (see, for example, Ostrovar v. Moldova, no. 35207/03, § 89, 13 September 2005; Babushkin v. Russia, no. 67253/01, § 44, 18 October 2007; and Novikov v. Russia (dec.), no. 11303/12, § 33, 10 December 2013).
23. The present case is no different from the cases cited above. The Government argued that throughout his detention the applicant had had adequate access to toilets and showers in conditions respecting intimacy. Furthermore, they submitted that the applicant had had the opportunity to take daily walks ranging from sixty minutes in the Arad Police detention facilities to three hours in Arad Prison. In addition, during the period of almost nine months spent in Arad Prison the applicant participated in four educational and sports activities. The Government also submitted that adequate food and heating had been provided to the prisoners in Arad Prison, the cells had contained adequate furniture and that the conditions of transport were in accordance with the national norms (see paragraphs 7 and 8 above). The Court again notes that following the communication of the case to the Government, the applicant did not dispute any of the Government's above-mentioned submissions.
24. In the Court's opinion the applicant may have well experienced a certain amount of distress resulting from his incarceration. The Court cannot, however, establish that the overall conditions of his detention in the Arad Police detention facilities and Arad Prison reached the threshold of severity required to characterise the treatment as inhuman or degrading within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention.
25. In view of the above circumstances, the Court concludes that the applicant's complaints about the conditions of his detention in the Arad Police detention facilities and in Arad Prison are manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 (a) and 4 of the Convention.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
Declares inadmissible the remainder of the application.
Done in English and notified in writing on 12 February 2015.