CASE OF ABOS AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA (European Court of Human Rights) 36002/19 and 6 others

The applicants complained of the inadequate conditions of their detention.


FOURTH SECTION
CASE OF ABOS AND OTHERS v. ROMANIA
(Applications nos. 36002/19 and 6 others – see appended list)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
15 September 2022

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

In the case of Abos 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 25 August 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. In some of the applications, the Government raised a preliminary objection concerning loss of victim status by 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 concerned 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, 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. 41803/19 and 62943/19, 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 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, 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 15 September 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

Facility

Start and end date

Duration

Sq. m per inmate Specific grievance Domestic compensation awarded

(in days)

based on total period calculated by national authorities

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

(in euros)[1]

1. 36002/19

21/08/2019

Levente ABOS

1976

Codlea Prison

23/12/2019 to

12/02/2020

1 month(s) and 21 day(s)

2.25 m² overcrowding, infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack or inadequate furniture, mouldy or dirty cell, poor quality of food, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities 246 days in compensation for a total period of 1,255 days spent in detention in inadequate conditions from 14/06/2016 to 22/12/2019 in Miercurea Ciuc, Târgu Mureş and Codlea Prisons 1,000
2. 37826/19

09/08/2019

Constantin-Vitalian ANIŢOAIE

1986

Botoșani and Iași Prisons

23/12/2019 to

10/08/2020

7 month(s) and 19 day(s)

2.41-2.85 m² overcrowding (save for the period 13/04/2020-28/04/2020), infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, poor quality of food, no or restricted access to warm water 54 days in compensation for a total period of 291 days spent in detention in inadequate conditions from 07/03/2019 to 22/12/2019 1,000
3. 41803/19

29/07/2019

Imre BUTYKA

1963

Aiud Prison

23/12/2019 to

12/02/2020

1 month(s) and 21 day(s)

infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack or inadequate furniture, mouldy or dirty cell, poor quality of food, no or restricted access to warm water 486 days in compensation for a total period of 2,436 days spent in detention in inadequate conditions from 24/07/2012 to 22/12/2019, including all detention facilities of which the applicant complained 1,000
4. 42385/19

14/10/2019

Ionuț MUNTEANU

1992

Giurgiu Prison

23/12/2019

pending

More than 2 year(s) and 6 month(s) and 6 day(s)

infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, lack of or insufficient natural light, lack or inadequate furniture, mouldy or dirty cell, poor quality of food 258 days in compensation for a total period of 1,291 days spent in detention in inadequate conditions from 24/07/2012 to 22/12/2019, including the entire period spent in Giurgiu Prison 3,000
5. 42597/19

16/09/2019

Neculai COVACIU

1973

Jilava Prison

23/12/2019

pending

More than 2 year(s) and 6 month(s) and 6 day(s)

1.93-2.46 m² overcrowding, mouldy or dirty cell, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities 528 days in compensation for a total period of 2,641 days spent in detention in inadequate conditions from 24/07/2012 to 22/12/2019 3,000
6. 47120/19

28/08/2019

Nicolae TERŞANSCHI

1980

Bistrita County Police; Gherla Prison

03/01/2012 to

23/07/2012

6 month(s) and 21 day(s)

Arad Prison

30/03/2017 to

28/08/2021

4 year(s) and 4 month(s) and 29 day(s)

1.31-2.26 m² overcrowding (except for the periods 03/01/2012-04/05/2012 and 30/03/2017-27/08/2021), infestation of cell with insects/rodents, lack of fresh air, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, no or restricted access to shower, poor quality of food 336 days in compensation for a total period of 1,708 days spent in detention in inadequate conditions from 24/07/2012 to 29/03/2017 in Gherla, Târgu-Mureş and Aiud Prisons 3,000
7. 62943/19

07/01/2020

Sorin-Marius RAICA

1985

Arad Prison

29/03/2019 to

19/08/2019

4 month(s) and 22 day(s)

Arad Prison

02/09/2019 to

23/09/2020

1 year(s) and 22 day(s)

 

 

 

lack of or insufficient natural light, lack of fresh air, lack of privacy for toilet, lack of or inadequate hygienic facilities, mouldy or dirty cell, infestation of cell with insects/rodents

 

 

3,000

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

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