CASE OF COVACI AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA (European Court of Human Rights) Application no. 48624/16 and 11 others

The applicants complained of the inadequate conditions of their detention.


FOURTH SECTION
CASE OF COVACI AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA
(Application no. 48624/16 and 11 others – see appended list)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
2 December 2021

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

In the case of Covaci 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 10 November 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 of the inadequate conditions of their detention.

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 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. 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 ‑41, and Ananyev and Others v. Russia, nos. 42525/07 and 60800/08, §§ 149‑59, 10 January 2012).

8. 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.

9. Having examined all the material submitted to it and the arguments raised by the parties, including the Government’s objections related to the non-exhaustion of domestic remedies or the application of the six-month time-limit, 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 (including its findings in the recent case Polgar v. Romania, no. 39412/19, §§ 94‑97, 20 July 2021), the Court considers that in the instant case the applicants’ conditions of detention were inadequate.

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

III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

11. 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.”

12. 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.

13. 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 applications admissible;

3. Holds that these applications disclose a breach of Article 3 of the Convention concerning the inadequate conditions of detention;

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 2 December 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 Amount awarded for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage and costs and expenses per applicant

(in euros)[1] 

1. 48624/16

05/08/2016

Dorel COVACI

1985

Daniel Curelariu

Caransebes

Caraș-Severin County Police and Timișoara and Arad Prisons

07/11/2011 to

06/03/2016

4 year(s) and 4 month(s)

1.2-2.89 m² overcrowding (save for 07/11/2014-06/03/2016), bunk beds, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, inadequate temperature, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, no or restricted access to running water, no or restricted access to shower, lack of toiletries, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, poor quality of food 3,000
2. 48789/16

29/11/2016

Radu-Nicolaie BĂLAN

1972

 

 

Dej Prison Hospital and Timișoara, Aiud, Bistrița Năsăud and Gherla Prisons

26/02/2016 to

25/10/2016

8 month(s)

1.94-2.5 m² overcrowding (save for 03/03-13/04/2016, 26-27/06/2016, 16/07/2016, 17-23/08/2016, 29/08-01/09/2016, 01-04/10/2016), lack of fresh air, mouldy or dirty cell, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or insufficient electric light, no or restricted access to toilet, lack or inadequate furniture, poor quality of food 1,000
3. 57042/16

25/10/2016

Daniel-Cristian IACOBSON

1978

Irina Maria Peter

Bucharest

Rahova and Jilava Prisons

05/06/2015 to

30/08/2016

1 year(s) and 2 month(s) and 26 day(s)

1.39-2.44 m² overcrowding, bunk beds, poor quality of food, no or restricted access to warm water, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, no or restricted access to running water, poor quality of potable water, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, mouldy or dirty cell 3,000
4. 2355/17

28/12/2016

Gheorghe-Călin CREŢ

1982

Nicoleta Iuga

Arad

Arad Police and Arad and Timișoara Prisons

24/11/2015 to

20/06/2017

1 year(s) and 6 month(s) and 28 day(s)

2.21-2.25 m² overcrowding (save for 19/01/2016-12/04/2016 and 23/06/2016-20/06/2017), lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, no or restricted access to toilet, lack or inadequate furniture, poor quality of food, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, no or restricted access to running water, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, inadequate temperature, no or restricted access to shower, no or restricted access to warm water, lack of toiletries 3,000
5. 2370/17

27/12/2016

Ioan-Paul BOGDAN

1982

Nicoleta Iuga

Arad

Arad County Police and Arad and Timișoara Prisons

31/03/2011 to

25/07/2017

6 year(s) and 3 month(s) and 26 day(s)

1.5-2.9 m² overcrowding (save for 26/05/2011-17/05/2012, 27/06/2012-08/04/2015, 25/04-28/04/2016 and 19/05-25/07/2017), lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, no or restricted access to toilet, lack or inadequate furniture, poor quality of food, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, no or restricted access to shower, no or restricted access to running water, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, inadequate temperature 5,000
6. 7726/17

20/02/2017

Andrei-Sebastian PETREAN

1986

 

 

Timișoara Prison

28/09/2016 to

13/09/2017

11 month(s) and 17 day(s)

2.21-2.25 m² overcrowding, passive smoking, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, mouldy or dirty cell, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, poor quality of food, inadequate temperature 1,000
7. 11187/17

17/03/2017

Gigi-Adrian NĂPRISTOC

1978

Irina Maria Peter

Bucharest

Teleorman County Police and Giurgiu, Rahova, Jilava and Găeşti Prisons

11/04/2013 to

20/12/2016

3 year(s) and 8 month(s) and 10 day(s)

1.4-2.62 m² overcrowding (save for 03/08 -20/12/2016), bunk beds, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, no or restricted access to toilet, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, no or restricted access to warm water, inadequate temperature, mouldy or dirty cell 3,000
8. 20583/17

13/03/2017

Viorel POPA

1962

 

 

Codlea, Miercurea Ciuc, Jilava, Oradea, Satu Mare, Bistriţa and Aiud Prisons and Dej Prison Hospital

11/02/2013 to

13/09/2016

3 year(s) and 7 month(s) and 3 day(s)

1.23-2.37 m² overcrowding (save for 09-12/08/2013, 17/01 -03/02/2014, 26/05-23/06/2014, 06-24/10/2016, 20/11 -16/12/2014, 12/02 -10/03/2015, 30/03/2015-13/09/2016), infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, no or restricted access to potable water, no or restricted access to warm water, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient electric light, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack or inadequate furniture, inadequate temperature 3,000
9. 20826/17

10/03/2017

Mihai PERIFAN

1977

Cătălin Gabriel Filişan

Constanta

Poarta Albă Prison

27/10/2015 to

21/12/2016

1 year(s) and 1 month(s) and 25 day(s)

1.75-2.75 m² overcrowding (save for 27/10 -20/11/2015 and 12/04 -21/12/2016), bunk beds, lack of privacy for toilet, no or restricted access to warm water, poor quality of potable water, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack or inadequate furniture, poor quality of food, inadequate temperature 3,000
10. 26752/17

28/03/2017

Iulian BUNDARU

1964

Nicoleta Iuga

Arad

Rahova, Timişoara and Arad Prisons

30/04/2013 to

08/11/2016

3 year(s) and 6 month(s) and 10 day(s)

1.31-2.82 m² overcrowding (save for 15/12/2014-17/12/2015), lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, poor quality of food, no or restricted access to warm water, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, inadequate temperature, lack of fresh air, lack or inadequate furniture, no or restricted access to shower 3,000
11. 28557/17

31/03/2017

Beinur HASAN

1974

 

 

Constanța Police, Poarta Albă Prison and Rahova and Poarta-Albă Prison Hospitals

13/02/2013 to

28/10/2016

3 year(s) and 8 month(s) and 16 day(s)

1.6-2.23 m² overcrowding (save for 12 -22/03/2013, 17/04 -17/11/2014 and 30/07 -21/08/2015), infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, no or restricted access to potable water, poor quality of food, mouldy or dirty cell 3,000
12. 55574/17

24/07/2017

Cristian VLAICU

1994

Nicoleta Iuga

Arad

Arad County Police and Arad, Craiova, Drobeta Turnu Severin and Timişoara Prisons

24/07/2013 to

07/02/2017

3 year(s) and 6 month(s) and 15 day(s)

overcrowding (save for 05/09 -09/12/2013, 25/03 -01/04/2014, 27/03 -02/04/2015 and 10/08/2016-08/02/2017), lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, no or restricted access to warm water, no or restricted access to shower, no or restricted access to toilet, poor quality of food, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of toiletries, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, inadequate temperature 3,000

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

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