Decision of the ECHR of 02 June 2020 in the case "N. T. (N. T.) v. Russian Federation "(aplication No. 14727/11).
In 2011, 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 long-term detention of the applicant, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, in solitary confinement in the absence of grounds, with significant restrictions on his contacts with the outside world and access to various activities. the case violated the requirements of article 3 of the convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
According to the legislation of the Russian Federation, all persons sentenced to life imprisonment, during the first 10 years, serve their sentence in a strict regime. The applicant, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, was kept separately from other prisoners in cells containing no more than two persons under this regime. He spent several years in solitary confinement. He was in the cell without any purposeful activity, whether it was work or study, and could only leave the cell for 90 minutes to exercise in the fresh air. his contacts with the outside world and his ability to manage money were significantly limited. in addition, during the first five years of his detention, the guards constantly handcuffed the applicant, even when he had to pour a heavy 30-liter toilet bucket into a cesspool outside the building. it caused him physical pain.
Regarding compliance with article 3 of the Convention (substantive aspect). (a) Strict regime of serving the sentence. being held in a cell designed for two people can lead to the same negative consequences as solitary confinement. Only the special security considerations that have emerged during incarceration can justify continued isolation. for the same reasons, an appropriate justification was required for the continued detention of prisoners in cells designed for two persons, if the intensity and duration of their isolation were so significant that its consequences were comparable to solitary confinement, in particular with regard to the well-being of prisoners and their social skills. the authorities of the russian federation did not provide any justification for the applicant's detention in solitary confinement. the applicant had been isolated for several years only on the grounds that he had been sentenced to life imprisonment, a circumstance which, in the court's opinion, could not warrant the application of this measure. This situation did not comply with the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe N Rec (2003)23 and the European Prison Regulations. The first document stressed the importance of the principle of non-isolation, while the second clearly required that only such security measures as are minimally necessary to ensure their detention be applied to prisoners and that these measures be regularly reviewed throughout the entire period of imprisonment.
Taken together, the applicant's isolation, limited exercise in the open air and lack of any activity led to deep and prolonged feelings of loneliness and boredom, and in this connection to severe moral suffering. In addition, due to the lack of appropriate psychological and physical stimuli, this situation could lead to the loss of social skills and individual personality traits.
(b) The systematic use of handcuffs. Although the applicant was placed on the list of dangerous criminals, during the entire period of serving his sentence in a high-security institution, he never violated discipline. The systematic use of handcuffs on the applicant over a period of five years thus significantly exceeded the legitimate requirements of prison security. it degraded his human dignity, caused him feelings of inferiority and anxiety, and caused suffering that went beyond the inevitable suffering and humiliation inherent in serving a sentence of life imprisonment.
the case involved a violation of the requirements of article 3 of the convention (adopted unanimously).
In the application of article 46 of the Convention. The Court noted that the established violation was largely due to the provisions of the legislation of the Russian Federation, therefore, it was a systemic problem, and further changes to the existing legal framework were required. The choice of instruments remained entirely at the discretion of the authorities of the Russian Federation, who had to decide whether to abolish the automatic application of a strict regime to all persons sentenced to life imprisonment, to provide that such a regime could be applied and remain in force only on the basis of an individual risk assessment for each such prisoner and no longer than was strictly necessary, or to mitigate the conditions of this regime, in particular with regard to physical restrictions, isolation and access to various activities for socialization and rehabilitation.
In the application of article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded the applicant EUR 3,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.