CASE OF MOCANU AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA (European Court of Human Rights) 18213/16 and 10 others

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”). The applicants complained of the inadequate conditions of their detention.


FOURTH SECTION
CASE OF MOCANU AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA
(Application no. 18213/16 and 10 others – see appended list)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
5 May 2022

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

In the case of Mocanu 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 7 April 2022,

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 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. The Government raised a preliminary objection concerning loss of victim status by some of the applicants for the periods of detention specified in the appended table 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 ‑41, and Ananyev and Others v. Russia, nos. 42525/07 and 60800/08, §§ 149‑59, 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, (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 appended table below, were inadequate.

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

III. REMAINING COMPLAINTS

14. In applications nos. 18213/16, 20044/16, 23336/16 and 1245/17, the applicants also raised other complaints under Article 3 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 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 abovementioned applications must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.

IV. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

16. 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.”

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

18. 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, for the periods 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 specified 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 5 May 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 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. 18213/16
04/07/2016
Marin MOCANU
1971
Antonela Gafia
Bucharest
Aiud Prison
18/05/2015 to
09/09/2015
3 month(s) and 23 day(s)
2.44 m² overcrowding, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, mouldy or dirty cell, lack of or insufficient natural light, no or restricted access to warm water, lack of fresh air 150 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions from 10/09/2015 to 22/08/2016 and from 04/04/2017 to 05/06/2018, including all the periods spent in Aiud Prison during this time 1,000
2. 18608/16
19/04/2016
Marian ERGHELIE
1978
Teleorman County Police Station and Giurgiu Prison
14/06/2011 to
10/08/2012
1 year(s) and 1 month(s) and 28 day(s)
Giurgiu,
Bucharest – Jilava and Găești Prisons
14/08/2012 to
03/08/2016
3 year(s) and 11 month(s) and 21 day(s)
2.79 – 2.88 m² overcrowding
(save for the period 09/07/2015 – 03/08/2016), infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, no or restricted access to shower, poor quality of food, poor quality of potable water, lack of privacy for toilet
5,000
3. 20044/16
13/06/2016
Augustin LINGURAR
1974
Vasile Rareş Biro
Satu Mare
Maramureș County Police Station and Gherla Prison
18/01/2011 to
24/07/2012
1 year(s) and 6 month(s) and 7 day(s)
1.50 – 2.34 m² overcrowding, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, no or restricted access to warm water, bunk beds, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, poor quality of food, no or restricted access to toilet 534 days in compensation for a total period spent in detention in inadequate conditions from 24/07/2012 to 22/12/2019, including all the periods spent in Gherla Prison except for the period 01/09/2016 – 16/09/2016 3,000
4. 23336/16
28/06/2016
Franz NICOLA
1969
Arad, Târgu Jiu, Iași, Timișoara, Aiud and Bacău Prisons
24/11/2005 to
11/05/2016
10 year(s) and 5 month(s) and 18 day(s)
1.16 – 2.90 m² overcrowding
(save for the periods
25/11/2008 – 10/12/2008, 05/08/2011 – 05/04/2013, 19/03/2015 – 23/03/2015, 30/04/2015 – 07/05/2015), insufficient sleeping places, inadequate sanitary facilities, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, bunk beds, poor quality of food
5,000
5. 27809/16
18/08/2016
Dumitru ROGINĂ
1972
Irina Maria Peter
Bucharest
Arad Prison
11/12/2014 to
06/01/2015
27 day(s)
Arad Prison
02/07/2015 to
28/07/2015
27 day(s)
Arad Prison
17/08/2015 to
18/08/2016
1 year(s) and 2 day(s)
no or restricted access to shower, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, poor quality of food 78 days in compensation for a total period of 398 days spent in detention in inadequate conditions from 08/07/2014 to 22/12/2019, including all the period spent in Timișoara and Gherla Prisons, but not for the period spent during this time in Arad Prison, mentioned in Column no. 5 3,000
6. 32708/16
27/05/2016
Nicolae MUNTEANU
1988
Cezara-Maria Nichita-Costescu
Timișoara
Arad Prison
19/10/2015 to
26/10/2018
3 year(s) and 8 day(s)
no or restricted access to warm water, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of toiletries, poor quality of food, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, no or restricted access to shower 72 days in compensation for a total period spent in detention in inadequate conditions from 03/09/2015 to 13/12/2019, including all the period spent in Oradea Prison from 03/09/2015 to 19/10/2015, but not for the period spent in Arad Prison mentioned in Column no. 5 3,000
7. 38565/16
08/08/2016
Istvan DERZSI
1973
Cluj County Police Station and Gherla Prison
09/04/2019 to
22/05/2019
1 month(s) and 14 day(s)
Gherla Prison
29/05/2019 to
21/07/2020
1 year(s) and 1 month(s) and 23 day(s)
overcrowding, bunk beds, lack of privacy for toilet, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, infestation of cell with insects/rodents 330 days in compensation for a total period of detention spent in inadequate conditions from 09/06/2013 to 13/03/2015, from 19/03/2015 to 17/08/2017, from 25/08/2017 to 14/09/2017, from 17/09/2017 to 16/10/2017 and from 24/10/2017 to 30/01/2018 3,000
8. 1245/17
20/12/2016
Gabriel ȘCHIOPU
1976
Mioveni (Colibaşi), Aiud, Târgu-Jiu, Deva and Timişoara Prisons
15/07/1998 to
22/06/2016
17 year(s) and 11 month(s) and 8 day(s)
0.86 – 2.74 m² overcrowding
(save for the periods
02/07/2004 – 14/06/2006, 17/07/2006 – 01/06/2009, 07/07/2009 – 18/11/2010 and 07/01/2013 – 22/06/2013), infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, no or restricted access to shower, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, passive smoking, no or restricted access to running water
5,000
9. 10250/17
25/01/2017
Augustin IORGA
1988
Nicoleta Iuga
Arad
Arad County Police Station; Arad, Timişoara and Bucharest – Rahova Prisons; Bucharest – Jilava Prison Hospital
04/11/2010 to
21/12/2016
6 year(s) and 1 month(s) and 18 day(s)
1.94 – 2.92 m² overcrowding
(save for the periods
30/11/2010 – 20/03/2013, 19/07/2013 – 16/04/2015, 20/07/2015 – 27/07/2016 and 14/11/2016 – 21/11/2016), no or restricted access to toilet, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, no or restricted access to shower, no or restricted access to warm water
5,000
10. 10911/17
31/01/2017
Ioan-Gheorghe GHIULAI
1978
Vasile Rareş Biro
Satu Mare
Bucharest – Rahova, Oradea and Satu Mare Prisons
06/04/2016 to
03/05/2017
1 year(s) and 28 day(s)
1.52 – 2.77 m² overcrowding
(save for the period 24/05/2016 – 25/07/2016), bunk beds, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, no or restricted access to shower, lack of fresh air, poor quality of food, lack of or insufficient physical exercise in fresh air, constant electric light
3,000
11. 38939/19
13/08/2019
Mădălin-Miki LUPU
1993
Botoșani County Police Station
18/07/2017 to
19/07/2017
2 day(s)
Botoșani County Police Station; Botoșani, Aiud and Gherla Prisons
22/07/2017 to
18/03/2019
1 year(s) and 7 month(s) and 25 day(s)
Gherla Prison
29/03/2019 to
22/04/2019
25 day(s)
Gherla Prison
07/05/2019 to
20/06/2019
1 month(s) and 14 day(s)
Gherla Prison
02/07/2019 to
13/02/2020
7 month(s) and 12 day(s)
2.25 m² overcrowding
(save for the periods
18-19/07/2017 and 22/07/2017 – 12/09/2017), no or restricted access to shower, lack of or restricted access to leisure or educational activities, lack of or insufficient natural light, infestation of cell with insects/rodents
3,000

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

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