The ECtHR judgment of 05 October 2017 in the case of Ābele v. Latvia (complaints No. 60429/12 and 72760/12).
In 2012 the applicant was assisted in the preparation of аpplication. Subsequently, the аpplication were merged and communicated to Latvia.
The applicant's complaints on the conditions of his detention were successfully considered in the case. There has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant, who was deaf and dumb from birth, complained about the conditions of his detention during part of his term of imprisonment. In particular, he claimed that for a total of about five years he was held in cells, where his personal space was reduced to about 3 square meters. m and that due to his disability, he could not communicate with cellmates or prison staff.
ISSUES OF LAW
Concerning compliance with Article 3 of the Convention. In addition to examining the material conditions and the length of the applicant's detention, the Court must also take into account his vulnerable position as a result of his disability and the fact that the authorities had to take special care to guarantee conditions that met his needs as an invalid.
(a) Period when the applicant had less than 3 square meters. m of personal space. The applicant had less than 3 square meters. m of personal space for more than a year. Such a period can not be regarded as "short, accidental and short" and, therefore, can not reject the presumption of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention. The applicant has experienced difficulties that go beyond the inevitable level of suffering inherent in detention and constitute degrading treatment.
(b) The period in which the applicant was diverted from 3 to 4 square meters. m of personal space. The applicant had slightly more than 3 square meters. m of personal space in two different cells for almost two years. He complained that the limited personal space, in conjunction with his disability, left him feeling particularly vulnerable and socially isolated, as he could not participate in any meaningful activity and was not properly understood by prison staff or fellow inmates. The Court observes that although the applicant was allowed to leave one of the cells (where he was kept for eight months) during the day, the same can not be said for another cell where he was held twice as long and approximately 23 hours a day without having the opportunity to communicate with their cellmates. During their stay in these two cells, the applicant was not provided with a hearing aid or other means of communication with prison staff. In the Court's view, the important factor limiting the personal space available to the applicant for almost two years, coupled with the inevitable sense of isolation and helplessness in the absence of adequate attempts to overcome his communication problems caused by his disability, was to force the applicant to feel anguish and feelings of inferiority, reaching the threshold of inhuman and degrading treatment.
There has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention (unanimously).
In the application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded the applicant EUR 7,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.