Judgment of the ECHR of January 30, 2020 in the case "Sukachov (Sukachov) v. Ukraine" (application N 14057/17).
In 2017, the applicant was assisted in preparing an application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to Ukraine.
The case successfully addressed the application about the inappropriate conditions of the applicant's detention and the lack of effective remedies in this regard. The case violated the requirements of Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
During the proceedings before the Court, the applicant complained mainly about the inadequate conditions of his detention and about the lack of effective remedies in this respect.
QUESTIONS OF LAW
The Court unanimously concludes that there have been violations of Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention in the present case.
Application of Article 46 of the Convention. The violations found in the present case were established 14 years after the first judgment of the European Court on the issue of conditions of detention in Ukraine. It is currently considering about 120 prima facie complaints on the merits. Violations in these cases were related to overcrowding in places of detention and other recurring problems related to the material conditions of detention. In some of its judgments, the Court has also found that there has been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention. Thus, in the present case the Court should have applied the pilot-judgment procedure.
(a) Measures to reduce overcrowding in places of deprivation of liberty and improve conditions of detention. The most appropriate solution to the problem of overcrowding would be to reduce the number of prisoners through more frequent use of non-custodial measures of restraint and by minimizing the incidence of detention in custody.
Prosecutors and other law enforcement officials in Ukraine should be encouraged to further reduce the number of applications to choose a preventive measure in the form of detention and to extend this measure, except in the most serious cases. Prosecutors and judges should be encouraged to use alternative measures of restraint as widely as possible.
A decrease in overcrowding in pre-trial detention centers will also be due to a change in the currently valid statutory minimum standard of 2.5 sq. m of personal space for each prisoner.
Despite the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities, the material conditions of detention in the remand prisons remained unsatisfactory or even deteriorated. In view of the magnitude of the problem at hand, there should have been a sustained and long-term effort and action taken without delay to undertake major refurbishment of existing facilities or to replace obsolete or “mothballed” facilities with new ones. For these purposes, appropriate funds should be allocated.
(b) Effective domestic remedies. (i) Preventive Remedies. The best way to create a preventive remedy would be to give a special body the power to oversee places of detention. Such a body should be empowered to monitor violations of prisoners' rights, be independent from the prosecuting authorities, have the authority and responsibility to investigate complaints with the participation of complainants, and be able to issue binding and enforceable decisions indicating the appropriate form of restoration of rights. This procedure can be established with the participation of existing authorities, for example, prosecutors. If the authorities of the respondent State decide to comply with this Regulation by amending the procedure for lodging a complaint with the prosecutor, then this procedure must comply with the principles set out in this Regulation.
(ii) Compensatory Remedy. One form of compensation should be to reduce a person's sentence in proportion to the number of days they spent in inappropriate conditions of detention. This remedy can only apply to those persons who are still deprived of their liberty. However, a reduction in their sentence can only constitute adequate redress if it is accompanied by a finding of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention and appropriate redress for that violation.
Another form of compensation could be monetary compensation, the only option for those who have already been released. With regard to the elements that are relevant to assessing the extent of harm, the time a prisoner spent in unsatisfactory conditions is the most important factor. Finally, a compensatory remedy must have a retroactive effect, that is, provide redress for a violation of Article 3 of the Convention that occurred prior to its implementation.
(iii) Time Limit for Establishing a Preventive and Compensatory Remedy. Given the persistent and ongoing nature of the structural problem at hand in the present case and the apparent absence of any concrete solution to the problem, a specific time limit must now be set at the domestic level, and the required preventive and compensatory remedies must be established within 18 months after the entry into force of this Resolution.
(c) Procedure Applicable to Other Similar Cases. The Court decided that there should not be any postponement at this time on similar applications, whether or not they have already been lodged with the Court.
Application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded the applicant EUR 9,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage for the violation of Article 3 of the Convention and decided that the finding of the violation amounted to sufficient just satisfaction in respect of the violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3 of the Convention.