CASE OF VIZIRU AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA (European Court of Human Rights) Application no. 31075/15 and 19 others – see appended list

The applicants complained under Article 3 of the Convention of the inadequate conditions of their detention. In some applications, the applicants also raised other complaints under Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention.


FOURTH SECTION
CASE OF VIZIRU AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA
(Application no. 31075/15 and 19 others – see appended list)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
14 October 2021

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

In the case of Viziru and Others v. Romania,

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

Armen Harutyunyan, President,
Jolien Schukking,
Ana Maria Guerra Martins, judges,
and Viktoriya Maradudina, Acting Deputy Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 23 September 2021,

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

PROCEDURE

1. The case originated in applications against Romania lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) on the various dates indicated in the appended table.

2. The Romanian Government (“the Government”) were given notice of the applications.

THE FACTS

3. The list of applicants and the relevant details of the applications are set out in the appended table.

4. The applicants complained under Article 3 of the Convention of the inadequate conditions of their detention. In some applications, the applicants also raised other complaints under Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention.

THE LAW

I. JOINDER OF THE APPLICATIONS

5. Having regard to the similar subject matter of the applications, the Court finds it appropriate to examine them jointly in a single judgment.

II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 OF THE CONVENTION

6. The applicants complained principally of the inadequate conditions of their detention. They 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.”

7. In some applications, the Government raised a preliminary objection concerning the applicants’ loss of victim status for the periods of detention specified in the appended table (see column no. 8), because they were afforded adequate redress based on Law no. 169/2017 amending and completing Law no. 254/2013 on the execution of sentences for those specific periods of detention.

8. The Court notes that the domestic remedy introduced in respect of inadequate conditions of detention in Romania and applicable until December 2019 was held to be an effective one in the case of Dîrjan and Ştefan v. Romania ((dec.), nos. 14224/15 and 50977/15, §§ 23‑33, 15 April 2020). This remedy was available to the applicants in the present applications and they were, indeed, afforded adequate redress for certain periods of detention (for details see the appended table).

9. Therefore, the Court accepts the Government’s objection and finds that these parts of the applications are incompatible ratione personae with the provisions of the Convention and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 (a) and 4 of the Convention.

10. Turning to the remaining periods of the applicants’ detention as specified in the appended table, the Court notes that the applicants were kept in detention in poor conditions. The details of the applicants’ detention are indicated in the appended table. The Court refers to the principles established in its case‑law regarding inadequate conditions of detention (see, for instance, Muršić v. Croatia [GC], no. 7334/13, §§ 96‑101, ECHR 2016). It reiterates in particular that a serious lack of space in a prison cell weighs heavily as a factor to be taken into account for the purpose of establishing whether the detention conditions described are “degrading” from the point of view of Article 3 and may disclose a violation, both alone or taken together with other shortcomings (see Muršić, cited above, §§ 122 ‑141, and Ananyev and Others v. Russia, nos. 42525/07 and 60800/08, §§ 149‑159, 10 January 2012).

11. In the leading case of Rezmiveș and Others v. Romania, nos. 61467/12 and 3 others, 25 April 2017, the Court already found a violation in respect of issues similar to those in the present case.

12. 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 these complaints. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant case the applicants’ conditions of detention were, for the periods specified in the appended table, inadequate.

13. These complaints are therefore admissible and disclose a breach of Article 3 of the Convention.

III. REMAINING COMPLAINTS

14. In applications nos. 31075/15, 2807/16, 33620/16, 43697/16, 44418/16, 46218/16, 53952/16, 55393/16 and 58139/16, the applicants also raised other complaints under Article 3 of the Convention, including, in some of them, related to the conditions of their detention during periods preceding the start date specified in the appended table and under Article 8 of the Convention.

15. The Court has examined these complaints and considers that, in the light of all the material in its possession and in so far as the matters complained of are within its competence, these complaints either do not meet the admissibility criteria set out in Article 34 and 35 of the Convention or do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Convention or the Protocols thereto..

16. It follows that that this part of the abovementioned applications must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.

IV. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

17. 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.”

18. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case‑law (see, in particular, Rezmiveș and Others v. Romania, nos. 61467/12 and 3 others, 25 April 2017), the Court considers it reasonable to award the sums indicated in the appended table.

19. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,

1. Decides to join the applications;

2. Declares the complaints concerning the inadequate conditions of detention, as specified in the appended table, admissible, and the remainder of the applications inadmissible;

3. Holds that these complaints disclose a breach of Article 3 of the Convention concerning the inadequate conditions of detention for the periods indicated in the appended table below;

4. Holds

(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;

(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.

Done in English, and notified in writing on 14 October 2021, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Viktoriya Maradudina                          Armen Harutyunyan
Acting Deputy Registrar                             President

___________

APPENDIX
List of applications raising complaints under Article 3 of the Convention
(inadequate conditions of detention)

No. Application no.
Date of introduction
Applicant’s name
Year of birth
Representative’s name and location Facility
Start and end date
Duration
Sq. m per inmate Specific grievances Domestic compensation awarded
(in days)
based on total period calculated domestically
Amount awarded for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage and costs and expenses per applicant (in euros)
[1]
1. 31075/15
16/06/2015
Nicolae VIZIRU
1966
Giurgiu and Rahova Prisons
03/12/2014 to
12/02/2016
1 year(s) and 2 month(s) and 10 day(s)
Giurgiu Prison
25/02/2016 to
21/06/2016
3 month(s) and 28 day(s)
1.6 m² overcrowding (only for the period between 27/01/2015 – 25/02/2015 and 27/02/2015 – 11/03/2015), poor quality of food, inadequate temperature, lack of fresh air 3,000
2. 48814/15
25/09/2015
Tudor TUDOR
1964
Giurgiu Prison and Rahova Prison Hospital
22/03/2011 to
23/07/2012
1 year(s) and 4 month(s) and 2 day(s)
2.9 m² overcrowding (save for the period between 01/01/2012 – 23/07/2012), poor quality of food, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of fresh air (Giurgiu Prison), no or restricted access to running water (Giurgiu Prison), inadequate temperature (Giurgiu Prison), infestation of cell with insects/rodents (Giurgiu Prison) 390 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions between 24/07/2012 – 22/12/2017 3,000
3. 52801/15
29/10/2015
Costel-Marius NICULESCU
1987
Irina Maria Peter
Bucharest
Giurgiu and Jilava Prisons and Jilava Prison Hospital
10/03/2014 to
08/03/2016
1 year(s) and 11 month(s) and 28 day(s)
Jilava Prison Hospital
29/03/2016 to
05/04/2016
8 day(s)
1.2 – 2.8 m² overcrowding (save for the periods between 10/03/2014 – 22/04/2014 and 28/09/2015 – 06/10/2015), lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, bunk beds, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, poor quality of food, lack or inadequate furniture, no or restricted access to potable water, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air 144 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions from 14/07/2016 to 14/08/2018 3 000
4. 2807/16
23/03/2016
Mircea LĂPĂDATU
1968
Codlea, Miercurea Ciuc, Mărgineni and Aiud Prisons
21/04/2009 to
23/07/2012
3 year(s) and 3 month(s) and 3 day(s)
1.1 – 2.8 m² overcrowding, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, no or restricted access to toilet, no or restricted access to shower, mouldy or dirty cell, lack of fresh air, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or insufficient natural light, poor quality of food 378 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions between 24/07/2012 – 14/11/2017 3,000
5. 23330/16
18/05/2016
Gheorghe-Adrian GEORGESCU
1977
Argeș (Pitești) Police Station
26/02/2014 to
24/06/2014
4 month(s)
poor quality of food, lack of privacy for toilet, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, no or restricted access to running water, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, infestation of cell with insects/rodents 240 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions between 25/06/2014 – 07/11/2017 1,000
6. 29558/16
12/06/2016
Ilie-Robert FIERARU
1986
Giurgiu County Police Station, Giurgiu and Jilava Prison
09/01/2006 to
23/07/2012
6 year(s) and 6 month(s) and 15 day(s)
1,7 – 2,6 m² overcrowding (save for the periods between 09/01/2006 – 05/04/2006 and 18/02/2012 – 23/07/2012), lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or insufficient natural light (Giurgiu County Police Station), lack of fresh air (Jilava Prison), no or restricted access to potable water (Jilava Prison) 420 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions between 24/07/2012 – 15/05/2018 5,000
7. 33620/16
19/05/2016
Marius-Sebastian LEONTIUC
1979
Laura Mirela
Leontiuc Timisoara
Arad Prison
03/04/2015 to
29/10/2015
6 month(s) and 27 day(s)
Arad Prison
12/11/2015 to
04/04/2016
4 month(s) and 24 day(s)
Arad Prison
11/04/2016 to
11/05/2017
1 year(s) and 1 month(s) and 1 day(s)
bunk beds, poor quality of food, lack of toiletries, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, no or restricted access to warm water, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air 150 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions from 12/03/2015 to 22/05/2019, with the exception of the periods referred to in Column no. 5 3,000
8. 40612/16
30/08/2016
Bogdan COSTEA
1984
Neamț County Police Station, Bacău, Jilava, Iași, Poarta Albă – Valu lui Traian, Mărgineni, Galați, Miercurea Ciuc, Codlea, Tulcea, Ploiesti, Vaslui, Găești Prisons and Târgu Ocna and Jilava Prison Hospitals
29/08/2003 to
23/07/2012
8 year(s) and 10 month(s) and 25 day(s)
Găești Prison
24/12/2019 to
20/05/2020
4 month(s) and 27 day(s)
0.6 – 2.2 m² overcrowding (save for the period between 26/06/2006 – 11/07/2006), lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, no or restricted access to shower, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, poor quality of food, inadequate temperature, lack or inadequate furniture, lack or insufficient quantity of food, lack of or insufficient electric light, insufficient number of sleeping places, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air 522 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions between 24/07/2012 – 23/12/2019 5,000
9. 41321/16
20/09/2016
Marian MOCANU
1971
Focșani Prison
24/12/2019 to
28/01/2020
1 month(s) and 5 day(s)
2.1 m² overcrowding, poor quality of food, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, inadequate temperature 510 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions from 24/07/2012 to 23/12/2019 1,000
10. 43697/16
21/07/2016
Dănuţ STANCU
1989
Ionela Mărgărit
Bucharest
Giurgiu and Brăila Prisons
11/06/2015 to
13/06/2016
1 year(s) and 3 day(s)
Brăila Prison
22/06/2016 to
25/11/2016
5 month(s) and 4 day(s)
Brăila Prison
08/12/2016 to
17/01/2017
1 month(s) and 10 day(s)
1.3 – 2.7 m² overcrowding (save for the periods between 11/06/2015 – 07/04/2016), bunk beds, lack or inadequate furniture, no or restricted access to warm water, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of fresh air 3,000
11. 44418/16
26/07/2016
Ion ALBULEȚ
1970
Ionela Mărgărit
Bucharest
Brăila, Poarta Albă and Galați Penitentiaries
08/02/2006 to
23/07/2012
6 year(s) and 5 month(s) and 16 day(s)
1.2-1.8 m² overcrowding (save for the periods between 05/08/2010 – 06/09/2010 and 04-25/11/2010), lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of privacy for toilet, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, no or restricted access to potable water, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or restricted access to leisure or educational activities, poor quality of food 390 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions between 24/07/2012 – 10/01/2018 5,000
12. 44477/16
13/07/2016
Aurel-Petru TIMIȘ
1976
Arad Prison
03/04/2014 to
19/01/2017
2 year(s) and 9 month(s) and 17 day(s)
lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, mouldy or dirty cell, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of toiletries, poor quality of food 180 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions from 07/03/2014 to 25/04/2019, with the exception of the periods referred to in Column no. 5. 3,000
13. 46218/16
07/09/2016
Ionuț VÎNĂTORU
1986
Nicolae Stoica
Cluj Napoca
Deva County Police Station
28/09/2014 to
19/10/2014
22 day(s)
mouldy or dirty cell, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of fresh air, lack of privacy for toilet 312 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions between 20/10/2014 – 07/01/2019 1,000
14. 47715/16
31/08/2016
Marian PÎRVU
1980
Irina Maria Peter
Bucharest
Bucharest Police detention facilities no. 7, Jilava, Rahova, Giurgiu and Colibași Prisons
25/10/2007 to
28/07/2016
8 year(s) and 9 month(s) and 4 day(s)
1.5-2.8 m² overcrowding (save for the periods between 17/02/2012 – 26/04/2012, 11-17/09/2012 – 28/06/2013 – 20/10/2014 and 05/07/2016 – 10/07/2016), lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of privacy for toilet, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, poor quality of food, lack or inadequate furniture, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, no or restricted access to potable water, no or restricted access to running water 5,000
15. 53952/16
06/12/2016
Cristian-Dorin DUMA
1987
Timișoara Prison
13/08/2015 to
04/04/2017
1 year(s) and 7 month(s) and 23 day(s)
1,9 – 2,5 m² overcrowding, lack or inadequate furniture, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of toiletries 3,000
16. 55393/16
16/10/2016
Ovidiu-Cristian POPA
1982
Arad, Bârcea Mare and Timișoara Prisons
21/04/2005 to
10/02/2017
11 year(s) and 9 month(s) and 21 day(s)
1,3 – 2,8 m² overcrowding (save for the period between 05/08/2011 – 04/07/2013 and 26/09/2014 – 02/10/2014), bunk beds, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or insufficient natural light 5,000
17. 58139/16
21/10/2016
Marian COŞERU
1982
Bucharest Police detention facilities no. 6, Jilava, Giurgiu Prisons and Jilava Prison Hospital
19/08/2007 to
23/07/2012
4 year(s) and 11 month(s) and 5 day(s)
Jilava Prison
21/12/2019
pending
More than 1 year(s) and 7 month(s) and 17 day(s)
2.8 m² overcrowding (save for the periods between 05/09/2007 – 12/12/2007, 30/07/2009 – 29/03/2010 and 10/03/2011 – 17/03/2011), lack of fresh air, mouldy or dirty cell, lack of or insufficient natural light, inadequate temperature, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, poor quality of potable water, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, poor quality of food, lack of toiletries 534 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions from 24/07/2012 to 20/12/2019 5,000
18. 65015/16
26/10/2016
Metodie VUCEA
1967
Daniel Curelariu
Caransebes
Caraș Severin County Police Station, Arad, Timișoara and Craiova Prisons
10/04/2013 to
22/06/2016
3 year(s) and 2 month(s) and 13 day(s)
1.4 – 2.2 m² overcrowding (save for the period between 10-11/04/2013 – 08/05/2013 – 02/09/2013, 08-14/11/2013 -, 12/12/2013 – 26/01/2015, 20/02/2015 – 16/04/2015 and 13/05/2015 – 22/06/2016), lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of fresh air, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of toiletries, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, poor quality of food, bunk beds in Timisoara Prison 3,000
19. 65385/16
05/12/2016
Marian STAVARACHE
1967
Neamț County Police Station, Bacău, Tulcea, Iași, Slobozia and Poarta Albă Prisons
01/11/2011 to
09/08/2012
9 month(s) and 9 day(s)
Tulcea Prison
24/12/2019 to
20/05/2020
4 month(s) and 27 day(s)
1.7 m² overcrowding (save for the period between 01/11/2011 – 09/08/2012), lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, no or restricted access to shower, lack of fresh air 528 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions from 24/07/2012 to 23/12/2019, with the exception of the periods referred to in Column no. 5 3,000
20. 6968/17
13/01/2017
Andrei MAIER
1987
Florin Ovidiu Rus
Baia Mare
Baia Mare Prison
18/06/2015 to
01/11/2016
1 year(s) and 4 month(s) and 15 day(s)
1,7 – 2,9 m² overcrowding (save for the period between 18/06/2015 – 23/06/2015, 24/06/2015 – 096/07/2015 and 11/02/2016 – 01/11/2016), lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of toiletries, lack of fresh air, inadequate temperature, lack of privacy for toilet, lack of or insufficient natural light 3,000

[1] Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants.

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