CASE OF RUSANDU v. UKRAINE (European Court of Human Rights) Application no. 23047/20

FIFTH SECTION
CASE OF RUSANDU v. UKRAINE
(Application no. 23047/20)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
1 April 2021

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Rusandu v. Ukraine,

The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:

Ivana Jelić, President,
Ganna Yudkivska,
Arnfinn Bårdsen, judges,
and Liv Tigerstedt, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 11 March 2021,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

PROCEDURE

1. The case originated in an application against Ukraine lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) on 29 May 2020.

2. The Ukrainian Government (“the Government”) were given notice of the application.

THE FACTS

3. The applicant’s details and information relevant to the application are set out in the appended table.

4. The applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention of the life sentence with no prospect of release.

THE LAW

I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 of the Convention

5. The applicant complained of the life sentence with no prospect of release. He relied on Article 3 of the Convention, which reads as follows:

Article 3

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

6. The Court reiterates that that the Convention does not prohibit the imposition of a life sentence on those convicted of especially serious crimes, such as murder. Yet to be compatible with Article 3 such a sentence must be reducible de jure and de facto, meaning that there must be both a prospect of release for the prisoner and a possibility of review. The basis of such review must extend to assessing whether there are legitimate penological grounds for the continuing incarceration of the prisoner. These grounds include punishment, deterrence, public protection and rehabilitation. The balance between them is not necessarily static and may shift in the course of a sentence, so that the primary justification for detention at the outset may not be so after a lengthy period of service of sentence. The importance of the ground of rehabilitation is underlined, since it is here that the emphasis of European penal policy now lies, as reflected in the practice of the Contracting States, in the relevant standards adopted by the Council of Europe, and in the relevant international materials (see Vinter and Others v. the United Kingdom [GC], nos. 66069/09 and 2 others, §§ 59-81, ECHR 2013 (extracts)).

7. In the leading case of Petukhov v. Ukraine (no. 2), no. 41216/13, 12 March 2019, the Court already found a violation in respect of issues similar to those in the present case.

8. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court has not found any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion on the admissibility and merits of this complaint. It is therefore admissible and discloses a breach of Article 3 of the Convention.

II. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

9. Article 41 of the Convention provides:

“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”

10. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case‑law (see, in particular, Petukhov (no. 2), cited above, § 201), the Court considers that the finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just satisfaction.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,

1. Declares the application admissible;

2. Holds that it discloses a breach of Article 3 of the Convention;

3. Holds that the finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just satisfaction.

Done in English, and notified in writing on 1 April 2021, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Liv Tigerstedt                                      Ivana Jelić
Deputy Registrar                                  President

___________

APPENDIX
Application raising complaints under Article 3 of the Convention
(life sentence with no prospect of release)

Application no.
Date of introduction
Applicant’s name
Year of birth
Name of the trial court
Date of the life sentence
Judicial decision upholding
the conviction
23047/20
29/05/2020
Sergsy Illich RUSANDU
1974
Kharkiv Regional Court,
25/04/2000
Supreme Court of Ukraine,
06/03/2001

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