On November 6, 2013, the case was won in the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Заголовок: On November 6, 2013, the case was won in the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Сведения: 2024-04-29 09:57:38

The case of Miguel Angel Lopez Rodriguez v. Spain. Views of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 6 November 2013. Communication No. 1/2013.

In 2013, the author of the communication was assisted in preparing a complaint. Subsequently, the complaint was communicated to Spain.

The Committee considered it reasonable to reduce the amount of the non-deductible benefit in order to allocate public resources in the most efficient way if there were changes in the needs of the beneficiary, which served as the basis for granting him the benefit. In this case, the author's needs changed due to the fact that his maintenance was paid for by the penitentiary institution from the State budget. The reduction in the amount of the author's non-deductible disability allowance did not constitute a violation of his rights under articles 2 and 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

As could be seen from the text of the Considerations, at the time of submission of the communication, the author was being held in the Seville penitentiary center, where he was placed in March 2003. Earlier, the Cordova Provincial Office of the Advisory Commission on Equality and Social Security of the Andalusian Government (Advisory Commission) assigned the author a non-deductible disability benefit/pension in the amount of 301.55 euros per month. Based on a decision of 23 March 2006, the Advisory Commission reduced the pension to 147.71 euros per month, considering that for the purposes of calculating the amount of the benefit, the cost of his detention in the penitentiary center, amounting to 2062.25 euros per year, should be counted as part of the author's income. The author claimed that the State party violated his right to social security and the right to enjoy this right without discrimination and on an equal basis, since the measure appointed by the Advisory Commission implied unequal treatment of him compared to other prisoners (paragraphs 2.1, 3.2 of the Views).

The Committee's assessment of the factual circumstances of the case: the arguments of the State party have been taken into account that, since it is a non-deductible benefit paid at the expense of the State, in the case of simultaneous receipt of another type of benefit paid from the State treasury, the amount of one of them is deducted from the amount of the other; and that the reduction in the amount of the author's benefit it was carried out in accordance with the legislation (paragraph 13.1 of the Considerations).

As for the author's case, on the basis of article 144 and the following articles of the General Law on Social Security (hereinafter referred to as the OSS), the reduction in the amount of his non-deductible disability benefit was explained by the fact that part of his basic needs, namely housing and food, to meet which the benefit was directed, directly and They were gratuitously satisfied by the penitentiary institution authorized to do so by the above-mentioned articles according to the interpretation of the Supreme Court of Spain. Thus, this reduction was carried out in a legitimate manner (paragraph 13.2 of the Considerations).

In addition, in the State party's view, it was a reasonable measure to achieve an objective consistent with the Covenant, namely, to protect public resources necessary for the exercise of individual rights. In the specific case of non-deductible benefits, which are paid exclusively from the State budget and do not depend on the preliminary contributions of the beneficiary, the participating States have a certain freedom in allocating budgetary resources in the most appropriate way in order to guarantee full effectiveness in the exercise of the rights provided for in the Covenant, and to ensure, inter alia, to all persons and families a minimum the acceptable level of benefits within the social security system. Thus, the Committee considered it reasonable to reduce the amount of the non-deductible benefit in order to allocate public resources in the most efficient way if there were changes in the needs of the beneficiary, which served as the basis for granting him the benefit. In this case, the author's needs changed due to the fact that his maintenance was paid for by the penitentiary institution from the State budget (paragraph 13.3 of the Considerations).

The Committee noted that after this measure was taken, the author continued to receive a non-deductible allowance in the amount of 147.71 euros, as well as detention in the penitentiary institution where he served his sentence. The State party has thus replaced the payment of cash to the author, which was made when he was at liberty, with assistance in kind in the form of payment for his maintenance during his imprisonment. The Committee considered that there was no evidence that the replacement of part of the non-deductible disability benefit from cash payments to pay for detention in a penitentiary institution had serious negative consequences for the author. In fact, the author did not provide any information or documents indicating that the contested measure was disproportionate, as it served as an obstacle to meeting the basic needs of him or his family, which the non-deductible allowance was intended to cover; or that the adoption of this measure had a special impact on him due to his disability. The Committee concluded that the author's statement and the information provided by him did not allow it to be concluded that the reduction in the amount of his non-deductible allowance in itself constituted a violation of article 9 of the Covenant (paragraph 13.4 of the Views).

The Committee took note of the fact that the author was disabled and detained, which exposed him to a greater risk of discrimination than the rest of the general population. This meant that consideration of the issue of possible discrimination against him should be carried out with special care (paragraph 14.1 of the Considerations).

The Committee concluded that the comparison proposed by the author of the communication seems appropriate, since in the context of the case under consideration, these persons are in approximately the same position as the author. It should be recognized that the court rulings and documents submitted by the author, apparently, indicated that at some point judicial decisions were made that contradicted the interpretation and implementation of article 144 and the subsequent articles of the OSSO on the criteria for calculating the amount of non-deductible benefits for persons deprived of liberty. However, the author did not prove, for example, by referring to legal norms or their application, that he was indeed treated differently from persons deprived of liberty and receiving non-deductible benefits in other autonomous communities when calculating the amount of his allowance. In addition, in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of September 29, 2010, a unified interpretation of the law in this regard was developed in accordance with its decisions of December 20, 2000 and July 15, 2008, which allowed a reduction in the amount of benefits equivalent to the cost of maintaining individuals. The author was unable to confirm that, after the adoption of these decisions by the Supreme Court, there were indeed differences in treatment in different autonomous communities. In this regard, the Committee did not consider it necessary to consider whether, in this case, the alleged differences in treatment in different autonomous communities constitute a violation of the Covenant or not. The Committee concluded that there was no evidence that the Advisory Commission's decision to reduce the amount of the author's allowance constituted unequal treatment compared to other persons deprived of liberty and held in penitentiary institutions located in other autonomous communities (paragraph 14.2 of the Views).

The author claimed that he was treated differently from other prisoners whose non-deductible benefits had not been reduced.

The Committee further examined the author's allegations that he was treated differently from other persons deprived of their liberty who do not receive non-deductible benefits and are held in penitentiary institutions free of charge. In the Committee's opinion, discrimination would have occurred if the author had had to pay for his maintenance, while other prisoners were not required to do so (paragraph 14.3 of the Views).

The Committee considered that, in this regard, the author was based on a false assumption, which led him to erroneous comparisons. The author considers that the non-contributory financial assistance is his income and part of his Estate, and therefore considers that the reduction of the allowance to cover his living expenses is a "payment" of that maintenance. In the Committee's view, this is not the case, since his cash benefit is non-contributory and has characteristics that, therefore, cannot be considered the author's income as part of his savings, as in the case of contributory benefits. He was also granted as a person who is unable to meet his needs at the expense of other income and monetary gains. Therefore, the author ' s allowance may be reduced to the minimum necessary to meet these needs. Therefore, the claim that the author is forced to pay for his imprisonment while the other prisoners do not pay is false, since, in his case, the amount equivalent to the cost of his imprisonment is taken as cash income or income when calculating his non-contributory allowance. The author's situation differs from that of other prisoners who do not receive non-contributory benefits (para. 14.4 of the Views).

The Committee considered the author ' s claim that his treatment was discriminatory compared to other persons who were released and held in state-funded institutions, where they received free meals and, in some cases, lived for free. These are, for example, hospitals, shelters and drug treatment centers. However, the non-contributory social security benefits of such persons are not reduced. The Committee considered that the author had failed to submit the relevant information and documents indicating that such a difference in treatment existed in practice; and that, although the situations to which the author referred were real, he had not personally been subjected to discriminatory treatment (para. 14.5 of the Views).

There is indeed a certain similarity between the author ' s situation and that of persons who receive benefits and non-contributory meals and are accommodated free of charge in public institutions, such as hospitals. In both cases, these are people who receive non-contributory cash benefits together with other State assistance in kind, which follows that, in both cases, the State must treat them in the same way, i.e. maintain the amount of cash benefits for both categories of people or reduce them proportionally. However, the Committee considers that, despite these similarities, there are significant differences between the two situations described, which explains the possible difference in treatment by the State, which does not constitute an act of discrimination. The Committee noted that the situation of a person deprived of liberty as a result of a criminal conviction differed from that of the other persons mentioned by the author (e.g. sick people receiving treatment in hospitals or people receiving food in shelters) in at least two respects (para.14.6 of the Opinion).

First of all, a person is sentenced to a term of deprivation of liberty to serve a sentence imposed by a judicial authority for a certain period, usually several months or years. Therefore, such a person has a certain legal status. In addition, it is quite easy to calculate the cost of their maintenance and determine whether their needs, or some of those that were initially allocated to the non-contributory benefit, are sufficiently covered by the amount of maintenance offered by the correctional facility, and how long it will be enough. However, the situation of persons who are at liberty and who benefit from the services of the public institutions mentioned by the author, such as hospitals or care centres, differs considerably from that of persons deprived of liberty for a crime, since the former voluntarily resort to such services and agree to stay in the aforementioned institutions for the enjoyment of their fundamental rights for an indefinite period, which, however, is usually of short duration. In such cases, it is much more difficult to ensure that the reduction in the benefit does not affect the needs for which it was originally intended. Moreover, due to the uncertain and temporary nature of the services provided, such a reduction is very likely to occur once the person has left the hospital or care facility from which he or she benefited (paragraph 14.7 of the Views).

Secondly, although persons in such institutions receive maintenance and food, they are not considered a complementary or separate service, but form an integral and integral part of the State's assistance to address the vulnerability of such persons, which is usually temporary and necessary to ensure the protection of their fundamental rights, such as the right to health or to food (para. 14.8 of the Views).

The Committee considered that there was some similarity between the author ' s situation and that of the persons at large to whom the author was compared. However, due to the significant differences mentioned in the previous paragraphs, the State party is not obliged to treat equally persons deprived of liberty who receive non-contributory benefits and persons who are at large and who resort to hospitals, care centres or shelters (para. 14.9 of the Views).

The Committee's conclusions: The reduction of the author's non-contributory disability benefit did not constitute a violation of his rights under articles 2 and 9 of the Covenant (Views, para. 15).

 

 

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