Decision of the ECHR of 12 may 2020 in the case "Korostelev v. the Russian Federation" (aplication N 29290/10).
in 2010, the applicant was assisted in the preparation of the aplication. The aplication was subsequently communicated to the Russian Federation.
The case successfully considered an aplication about the punishment applied to a Muslim prisoner for performing religious rites in violation of the detention regime. The case violated the requirements of article 9 of the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The applicant, a devout Muslim, was punished (reprimanded) for violating the regime in the place of detention, namely for reading two prayers (Salavat, Salah) at night, when according to the daily routine all prisoners were supposed to have"uninterrupted sleep".
POINT OF LAW
Regarding compliance with article 9 of the Convention. The applicant was punished for violating the detention regime and ignoring the guards ' request to return to his bed. The application of a disciplinary sanction to the applicant, even in the minor form of a reprimand, was an interference with his right to freedom of religion. The question was whether interference was justified and necessary in a democratic society.
Apparently, the only reason for the disciplinary action against the applicant was the formal inconsistency of his actions with the daily routine of prisoners in the institution and the attempt by the authorities to ensure full and unconditional compliance with this routine by all prisoners. Although the court recognized the importance of maintaining discipline in places of detention, it could not accept such a formal approach, which clearly ignored the applicant's individual situation and did not take into account the requirement to establish a fair balance between competing personal and public interests.
It was particularly important for the applicant to fulfill his duty as a believer to recite the prayer at the time prescribed by his religion. This duty should be performed daily, not only during Ramadan. There was nothing to suggest that the applicant's commitment to reciting prayers at night posed any threat to order or security in the place of detention. The applicant did not use dangerous items or attempt to read prayers with other prisoners in a large group. Moreover, the applicant's prayers did not disturb other prisoners or guards, as he read them while in solitary confinement, without making any noise and in the absence of other disturbing circumstances. In conclusion, it appears that the recitation of prayers did not tire the applicant and could not negatively affect his health or his ability to participate in criminal proceedings.
There was no "prayer time" or "personal time" in the prisoners ' daily routine, which prisoners could use as they wished, as recommended by the European prison rules. In the circumstances of the present case, no additional effort was required from the authorities of the Russian Federation to respond to the applicant's request to perform his religious rites.
As a result, as a form of disciplinary punishment, the reprimand not only reduced the applicant's chances of early release, relaxation of the detention regime or encouragement, but also had a demotivating effect on other prisoners. The courts of the Russian Federation did not assess the proportionality of this punishment in any meaningful way. They limited themselves to examining whether the applicant's actions violated the daily routine of the detainees or not. The courts of the Russian Federation did not indicate the legitimate purpose of the alleged interference with the applicant's right to freedom of religion and did not balance competing interests.
In view of the above, interference with the applicant's right to freedom of religion could not be considered necessary in a democratic society.
The case violated the requirements of article 9 of the Convention (adopted unanimously).
In the application of article 41 of the Convention. The European Court awarded the applicant EUR 2,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.