CASE OF TOKAR AND OTHERS v. UKRAINE (European Court of Human Rights) 22356/20 and 7 others

The applicants complained of the life sentence with no prospect of release.


FIFTH SECTION
CASE OF TOKAR AND OTHERS v. UKRAINE
(Applications nos. 22356/20 and 7 others – see appended list)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
18 November 2021

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

In the case of Tokar and Others v. Ukraine,

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

Lətif Hüseynov, President,
Lado Chanturia,
Arnfinn Bårdsen, judges,
and Viktoriya Maradudina, Acting Deputy Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 21 October 2021,

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

PROCEDURE

1. The case originated in applications against Ukraine 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 Ukrainian 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 of the life sentence with no prospect of release.

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 of the life sentence with no prospect of release. They relied, expressly or in substance, 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. The Court reiterates 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)).

8. 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.

9. 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. They are therefore admissible and disclose a breach of Article 3 of the Convention.

III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

10. 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.”

11. 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. Decides to join the applications;

2. Declares the applications admissible;

3. Holds that these applications disclose a breach of Article 3 of the Convention concerning the life sentence with no prospect of release;

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

Done in English, and notified in writing on 18 November 2021, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Viktoriya Maradudina                       Lətif Hüseynov
Acting Deputy Registrar                        President

___________

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

No. Application no.
Date of introduction
Applicant’s name
Year of birth
Representative’s name and location Name of the trial court
Date of the life sentence
Judicial decision upholding the conviction
1. 22356/20
06/05/2020
Oleg Mykolayovych TOKAR
1986
Vinnytsya Regional Court of Appeal,
11/06/2007
Supreme Court of Ukraine, 17/01/2008
2. 23423/20
07/05/2020
Igor Grygorovych ZINCHENKO
1973
Plakhotnyuk Oleksandr Oleksandrovych
Kyiv
Kyiv City Court,
18/08/2000
Supreme Court of Ukraine, 15/02/2001
3. 23878/20
12/05/2020
Andriy Mykolayovych BONDARENKO
1981
Rovenskyy Oleksandr Valeriyovych
Kyiv
Vinnytsya Regional Court of Appeal,
09/03/2004
Supreme Court of Ukraine, 01/07/2004
4. 23899/20
28/05/2020
Mykhaylo Volodymyrovych ORLOV
1974
Kychenok Andriy Sergiyovych
Kyiv
Lugansk Regional Court of Appeal,
20/03/2012
N/A
5. 3177/21
08/12/2020
Sergiy Volodymyrovych DIDENKO
1979
Gorbachevska Tamara Igorivna
Kharkiv
Kyiv City Court,
20/11/2000
Supreme Court of Ukraine, 12/04/2001
6. 6740/21
14/01/2021
Sergiy Yosypovych KARPOVETS
1976
Kychenok Andriy Sergiyovych
Kyiv
Rivne Regional Court of Appeal,
03/04/2002
Supreme Court of Ukraine, 20/08/2002
7. 7593/21
28/01/2021
Sergiy Dmytrovych BROVKO
1963
Kychenok Andriy Sergiyovych
Kyiv
Kharkiv Regional Court,
11/04/1997
Supreme Court of Ukraine, 10/02/1998
Death penalty commuted to life sentence by decision of the Kharkiy Regional Court,
11/04/2001
8. 8509/21
13/01/2021
Sergiy Georgiyovych SIMON
1987
Revyakin Maksym Oleksandrovych
Kharkiv
Kharkiv Regional Court of Appeal, 14/08/2009 Supreme Court of Ukraine, 01/06/2010

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