CASE OF ALEXOAE AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA (European Court of Human Rights) 41320/16 and 10 others

The applicants complained of the inadequate conditions of their detention.


FOURTH SECTION
CASE OF ALEXOAE AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA
(Application no. 41320/16 and 10 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 Alexoae 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 has 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 for the periods specified 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 applications nos. 41320/16, 41727/16, 57347/16, 58141/16, 58361/16 and 60085/16 the applicants also raised other complaints under Article 3 of the Convention.

12. The Court has examined the applications listed in the appended table 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 applications 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 admissible, as specified in the appended table, 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 specified in the appended table;

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. 41320/16

05/09/2016

Ion-Ciprian ALEXOAE

1988

 

 

Codlea, Rahova and Miercurea Ciuc Prisons

30/10/2007 to

31/01/2017

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

Codlea Prison

14/02/2017 to

05/03/2017

20 day(s)

1.32-2.44 m²

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.15-2.40 m²

overcrowding (save for 29/12/2016-31/01/2017), no or restricted access to toilet, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, bunk beds, poor quality of food, lack or inadequate furniture, mouldy or dirty cell, infestation of cell with insects/rodents 5,000
2. 41580/16

13/07/2016

Felicia Violeta POPA

1965

Lucian Adrian Catrinoiu

Bucharest

Bucharest Central Arrest, Târgşor Prison

16/11/2015 to

01/03/2016

3 month(s) and 15 day(s)

1.94-2.44 m² overcrowding, bunk beds, insufficient number of sleeping places, passive smoking, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of privacy for toilet, constant electric light, poor quality of food, no or restricted access to toilet, lack of or insufficient natural light, inadequate temperature, mouldy or dirty cell, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities 1,000
3. 41707/16

22/09/2016

Viorel CHELU

1986

Ionela Mărgărit

Bucharest

Brăila County Police, Galaţi and Brăila Prisons

06/08/2014 to

26/09/2017

3 year(s) and 1 month(s) and 21 day(s)

1.16-2.06 m² overcrowding, bunk beds, no or restricted access to toilet, no or restricted access to shower, no or restricted access to running, potable and warm water, 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 or inadequate furniture, constant electric light, inadequate temperature, lack of fresh air, mouldy or dirty cell, poor quality of food, lack of or restricted access to leisure or educational activities 3,000
4. 41727/16

03/08/2016

Florin-Cristian BUDESCU

1974

 

 

Vaslui and Tulcea Prisons

29/12/2015 to

22/09/2016

8 month(s) and 25 day(s)

Vaslui and Galaţi Prisons

08/10/2016 to

16/05/2017

7 month(s) and 9 day(s)

1.39-1.91 m²

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.5-1.91 m²

overcrowding, bunk beds, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of toiletries, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, no or restricted access to warm water, lack or inadequate furniture, poor quality of food, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, inadequate temperature 3,000
5. 42435/16

05/08/2016

Cătălin ZAMFIR

1978

 

 

Bucharest Police detention facilities nos. 4 and 13, Jilava, Rahova, Mărgineni, Slobozia, Giurgiu and Colibaşi Prisons, Jilava Prison Hospital

20/10/2006 to

20/04/2017

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

1.31-2.88 m² overcrowding (save for 22/07/2008-07/08/2008; 17‑27/03/2011; 22-23/01/2014; 02/09/2014-08/10/2014; 18/12/2014-18/02/2015; 25/06/2015-17/08/2015; 15/09/2015-08/10/2015, 23/11/2015-21/01/2016; 09‑12/05/2016), bunk beds, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of privacy for toilet, insufficient number of sleeping places, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, mouldy or dirty cell, poor quality of food, poor quality of potable water, no or restricted access to warm water, no or restricted access to shower 5,000
6. 57347/16

23/11/2016

Ioan-Gheorghe BERINDE

1980

Vasile Rareş Biro

Satu Mare

Satu Mare Prison

24/08/2016 to

13/11/2016

2 month(s) and 21 day(s)

Satu Mare Prison

17/12/2016 to

09/05/2017

4 month(s) and 23 day(s)

1.36-1.4 m²

 

 

 

 

 

1.40 m²

overcrowding, lack of fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of privacy for toilet, no or restricted access to toilet, poor quality of food, lack or inadequate furniture, no or restricted access to warm water, mouldy or dirty cell, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, no or restricted access to shower, inadequate temperature, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, constant electric light, bunk beds 1,000
7. 57955/16

07/11/2016

Dănuț-Cătălin MOISE

1972

 

 

Focşani Prison

25/01/2016 to

22/11/2016

9 month(s) and 29 day(s)

1.31-2.39 m² overcrowding, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, poor quality of food, mouldy or dirty cell 1,000
8. 58141/16

01/11/2016

Alexandru IORDACHE

1991

 

 

Botoşani, Iaşi and Bistriţa Prisons

14/08/2013 to

28/03/2017

3 year(s) and 7 month(s) and 15 day(s)

1.28-2.17 m² overcrowding, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, mouldy or dirty cell, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, inadequate temperature, no or restricted access to toilet, poor quality of potable water, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, lack of toiletries, lack of or restricted access to leisure or educational activities, no or restricted access to shower, lack of or insufficient natural light, poor quality of food, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities 3,000
9. 58361/16

30/09/2016

Emil OPREA

1957

Fănica Horia

Valu lui Traian

Poarta Albă and Slobozia Prisons

26/11/2014 to

19/07/2017

2 year(s) and 7 month(s) and 24 day(s)

2.03-2.94 m² overcrowding (save for 26/11/2014-07/05/2015), lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, poor quality of potable water, lack of fresh air, no or restricted access to shower, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, no or restricted access to running water 3,000
10. 58500/16

24/10/2016

Roberto-Georgel ACHIM

1972

 

 

Rahova, Colibaşi and Târgu Jiu Prisons

29/10/2013 to

29/11/2016

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

1.48-2.45 m² overcrowding (save for 29/10/2013-19/11/2013), bunk beds, lack or inadequate furniture, lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of toiletries, mouldy or dirty cell, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, poor quality of food, poor quality of potable water 3,000
11. 60085/16

11/11/2016

Nicușor LICSANDRU

1985

 

 

Giurgiu, Rahova, Colibaşi, Jilava and Mărgineni Prisons

21/10/2014 to

21/08/2017

2 year(s) and 10 month(s) and 1 day(s)

1.15-2.86 m²  overcrowding (save for 26/01/2017-31/07/2017), lack of or poor quality of bedding and bed linen, mouldy or dirty cell, no or restricted access to running water, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, no or restricted access to toilet, poor quality of food, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, bunk beds, no or restricted access to shower, lack or inadequate furniture, insufficient number of sleeping places 3,000

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

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