CASE OF SZEKELY AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA (European Court of Human Rights) 33498/16 and 8 others

The applicants complained of the inadequate conditions of their detention.


FOURTH SECTION
CASE OF SZEKELY AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA
(Application no. 33498/16 and 8 others – see appended list)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
13 January 2022

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

In the case of Szekely 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 9 December 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 objection related to the non-exhaustion of domestic remedies, 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 of Polgar v. Romania, no. 39412/19, §§ 94-97, 20 July 2021), the Court considers that in the instant case the applicants’ conditions of detention, as described in the table appended below, were inadequate.

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

III. REMAINING COMPLAINTS

11. In application no. 47436/16 the applicant also raised other complaints under Article 3 of the Convention.

12. The Court has examined the application 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 Articles 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.

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

IV. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

13. 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.”

14. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case‑law (see, in particular, Rezmiveș and Others, cited above), the Court considers it reasonable to award the sums indicated in the appended table.

15. The Court further 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 application no. 47436/16 inadmissible;

3. Holds that these complaints 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 13 January 2022, 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. 33498/16

04/07/2016

Eduard SZEKELY

1984

 

 

Gherla and Baia Mare Prisons

29/10/2015 to

19/04/2017

1 year(s) and 5 month(s) and 22 day(s)

1.53-2.37 m² overcrowding (save for 18-20/11/2015, 15‑21/11/2016, 16/12/2016-19/04/2017), bunk beds, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, lack of or insufficient quantity of food, poor quality of food, lack of privacy for toilet, lack or inadequate furniture, mouldy or dirty cell, no or restricted access to running water, no or restricted access to shower, no or restricted access to warm water, no or restricted access to toilet 3,000
2. 36671/16

18/07/2016

Petrică-Gelu TARARACHE

1979

 

 

Jilava Prison

16/05/2016 to

17/08/2017

1 year(s) and 3 month(s) and 2 day(s)

1.45-2.25 m² overcrowding, lack or inadequate furniture, no or restricted access to shower, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, no or restricted access to potable water, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, no or restricted access to toilet, inadequate temperature 3,000
3. 42981/16

16/08/2016

Gergely-Attila TANKÓ

1988

 

 

Miercurea Ciuc, Codlea, Bacău and Vaslui Prisons

15/01/2016 to

27/06/2017

1 year(s) and 5 month(s) and 13 day(s)

1.37-2.94 m² overcrowding (save for 18-26/01/2016, 5‑26/02/2016, 23-24/03/2016, 31/01/2017-11/04/2017, 24-28/04/2017 and 4/05/2017-27/06/2017), bunk beds, lack or inadequate furniture, no or restricted access to toilet, no or restricted access to potable water 3,000
4. 46596/16

14/11/2016

Cristian COJOCARU

1972

Elena-Loredana Cojocaru

Târgu Neamț

Iaşi, Tulcea and Vaslui Prisons

17/04/2015 to

17/08/2017

2 year(s) and 4 month(s) and 1 day(s)

1.28-2.86 m² overcrowding, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, inadequate temperature, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack or inadequate furniture, no or restricted access to running water, bunk beds, lack of or insufficient quantity of food, poor quality of food, no or restricted access to warm water, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air 3,000
5. 47436/16

06/09/2016

Marius VIAŞU

1978

 

 

Timişoara Prison

28/01/2016 to

25/07/2017

1 year(s) and 5 month(s) and 28 day(s)

2-2.42 m² overcrowding, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, infestation of cell with insects/rodents 3,000
6. 47629/16

02/09/2016

Mădălin Nicușor CROITORU

1991

 

 

Craiova Prison

15/12/2015 to

13/01/2017

1 year(s) and 30 day(s)

1.43-1.79 m² overcrowding, bunk beds, inadequate temperature, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of or insufficient quantity of food, poor quality of food, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, lack of privacy for toilet, lack or inadequate furniture, mouldy or dirty cell, no or restricted access to shower, no or restricted access to warm water 3,000
7. 49347/16

27/09/2016

Gheorghe BĂRBUIA

1969

 

 

Colibaşi and Târgu-Jiu Prisons, Colibaşi Prison Hospital

02/06/2016 to

12/09/2017

1 year(s) and 3 month(s) and 11 day(s)

1.81-2.81 m² overcrowding (save for Colibaşi Prison Hospital), bunk beds, inadequate temperature, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of or insufficient quantity of food, poor quality of food, lack or inadequate furniture, mouldy or dirty cell, no or restricted access to potable water, no or restricted access to toilet 3,000
8. 49594/16

08/11/2016

Cristian-Florian GALIAŢATO

1960

 

 

Drobeta Turnu Severin Police, Drobeta Turnu Severin, Craiova, Jilava, Gherla, Aiud, Arad, Drobeta Turnu Severin – Vânjuleţ Prisons

20/08/2001 to

21/12/2016

15 year(s) and 4 month(s) and 2 day(s)

1.19-2.27 m² overcrowding (save for Arad Prison and for 18/10/2004-23/01/2007, 24/02/2008-22/11/2008, 30/10/2009-20/08/2010), bunk beds, inadequate temperature, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of or insufficient quantity of food, poor quality of food, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, lack of privacy for toilet, lack or inadequate furniture, mouldy or dirty cell, no or restricted access to potable water, no or restricted access to running water, no or restricted access to shower, no or restricted access to warm water 5,000
9. 49712/16

20/09/2016

Ilie-Liviu COŞIER

1977

 

 

Sibiu County Police Station, Aiud and Bârcea Mare Prisons

23/11/2014 to

14/03/2017

2 year(s) and 3 month(s) and 20 day(s)

1.52-2.62 m² overcrowding (save for 23/11/2014-02/03/2015, 16/06/2015-19/11/2015), bunk beds, inadequate temperature, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of or insufficient quantity of food, poor quality of food, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, lack of privacy for toilet, lack or inadequate furniture, mouldy or dirty cell, no or restricted access to running water, no or restricted access to shower, no or restricted access to toilet, no or restricted access to warm water 3,000

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

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