FIRST SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 67086/01 
by Anatoliy Yuryevich KOROBOV and Others 
against Russia

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 2 March 2006 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr C.L. Rozakis, President
 Mr P. Lorenzen
 Mrs N. Vajić
 Mrs S. Botoucharova
 Mr A. Kovler
 Mrs E. Steiner, 
 Mr K. Hajiyev, judges
and Mr S. Quesada, Deputy Section Registrar
Having regard to the above application lodged on 10 August 2000,

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicants,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicants, Mr Anatoliy Yuryevich Korobov, Mr Oleg Yuryevich Savelyev and Mr Dmitriy Vladimirovich Tsyplov, are Russian nationals who were born in 1979 and live in Ivanovo. They were represented before the Court by Ms K. L. Kostromina, a lawyer with the International Protection Centre in Moscow. The respondent Government were represented by Mr P. A. Laptev, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicants, may be summarised as follows.

1.  Criminal proceedings

On 1 February 1998, at about 1 a.m., a police patrol arrested the applicants in the street on suspicion of having beaten up and robbed a passer-by, and took them to the police station. Criminal proceedings were brought against the applicants and their detention was ordered on the same day.

On 4 February 1998 an investigator from the Ivanovo Frunzenskiy district police department ordered the applicants’ detention pending trial. The Ivanovo Frunzenskiy district prosecutor upheld the order. The applicants were placed in detention facility IZ-37/1 in Ivanovo.

On 12 May 1998 the Frunzenskiy District Court of Ivanovo (“the District Court”) convicted the applicants of aggravated robbery and sentenced them to various terms of imprisonment. On 18 June 1998 the Ivanovskiy Regional Court (“the Regional Court”) upheld the judgment.

On 13 July 1998 Mr Tsyplov was transferred to penitentiary establishment OK-3/4 to serve his sentence. The following day Mr Korobov and Mr Savelyev were transferred to penitentiary establishment OK-3/5 in the town of Kokhma, in the Ivanovskaya region.

On an unspecified date the regional prosecutor’s office lodged an application for supervisory review of the case. On 3 December 1999 the Regional Court granted the application and quashed the judgment of 12 May 1998 as upheld on 18 June 1998. It found that the decision of 1 February 1998 to institute criminal proceedings against the applicants had been incomplete and erroneous, and that, as a result, all subsequent decisions taken in the course of the criminal proceedings had been unlawful. The case was therefore referred back to the police for a fresh investigation.

On 9 December 1999 the police re-commenced the proceedings.

On 14 December 1999 Mr Korobov and Mr Savelyev were transferred back to detention facility IZ–37/1, followed on 28 December 1999 by Mr Tsyplov.

On 16 December 1999 the applicants’ detention pending trial was ordered by the Ivanovo Frunzenskiy district police department investigator. The order was upheld by the Frunzenskiy district prosecutor.

On 22 February 2000 the District Court convicted the applicants of aggravated robbery. The court sentenced Mr Savelyev to seven years and one month’s imprisonment and the other two applicants to five years’ imprisonment, and issued a confiscation order. The applicants were represented by lawyers at the trial. The applicants and their lawyers appealed. On 4 May 2000 the Regional Court upheld the judgment.

On 23 May 2000 the applicants were transferred to penitentiary establishments OK-3/5 (Mr Korobov and Mr Savelyev) and OK-3/4 (Mr Tsyplov) to serve their sentences.

On 5 March 2001 the Deputy President of the Supreme Court of Russia (“the Supreme Court”) lodged an application with the Regional Court for supervisory review of the decisions of 22 February and 4 May 2000. On 19 March 2001 a copy of the application was served on the applicants, notifying them that the supervisory review hearing would take place on 23 March 2001. The applicants were invited to lodge their written submissions.

On 23 March 2001 the Regional Court granted the application and varied the decisions of 22 February and 4 May 2000. It reclassified the applicants’ actions, convicting them of affray and theft, and reduced their prison sentences, sentencing Mr Korobov to three and a half years’ imprisonment, Mr Savelyev to four years and two months and Mr Tsyplov to three years.

On 27 March 2001, having served his sentence, Mr Tsyplov was released from prison.

On 3 April 2001 Mr Korobov was transferred to detention facility IZ-37/1, where he was held until 5 April 2001. He was then transferred to penitentiary establishment no. 2 in the Ivanovskaya region. On 17 May 2001 Mr Korobov was released under an amnesty.

On 29 March 2002 Mr Savelyev was released, having served his sentence. On 23 April 2002 the Supreme Court quashed Mr Savelyev’s conviction in part and sentenced him to three years and seven months’ imprisonment.

2.  Conditions in detention facility IZ-37/1

(a)  Duration of detention and cell space per inmate

Mr Korobov and Mr Savelyev were held in detention facility IZ-37/1 in Ivanovo in seven different cells from 4 February to 14 July 1998, from 14 December 1999 to 23 May 2000 and from 3 to 5 April 2001. Mr Tsyplov was kept in the same detention facility in six different cells from 4 February to 13 July 1998 and from 28 December 1999 to 23 May 2000.

According to the applicants, they were kept in cells measuring 
20-25 sq. m, in which thirty-two inmates were held at the same time. According to Mr Savelyev, he was also held in cells measuring 15 and 19 sq. m which had ten and twelve beds and held twenty-four and twenty-seven detainees respectively.

The Government submitted information concerning the total area of each cell and the number of bunk beds therein, noting that the documents concerning the actual number of detainees held in the applicants’ cells had been destroyed on expiry of the statutory storage period.

(b)  Other observations

According to the applicants, there were more prisoners in their cells than beds, and inmates took turns to sleep. The cells had no proper ventilation. Being surrounded by heavy smokers, Mr Korobov, who did not smoke, was forced to become a passive smoker. The windows had no glass in them and in winter the prisoners had to cover them with blankets. It was very cold in winter and stuffy in summer. The floor was concrete. The toilet was not separated from the rest of the area and the detainees themselves had to partition it off with a curtain. There was fungus in the cells. They were infested with cockroaches, bugs and lice. No bedding was provided and the applicants had to obtain it from their families. The food was of poor quality.

According to the Government, the ventilation, lighting and heating in the cells in facility IZ-37/1 complied with the relevant standards. In winter the heating was sometimes cut off for short periods, not exceeding twelve hours, owing to malfunctioning of the municipal heating system. The cells were cleaned daily and disinfected weekly. Detainees could have a shower once a week and were given individual bedding. Between 1998 and 2000, owing to a shortage of funds, detainees were allowed to obtain missing items of bedding from their families. There was no shortage of beds. All the inmates underwent a medical examination on arrival. There were no complaints about insects in the cells at the material time. The toilet in each cell was separated by a brick partition 1.2-1.8 m high. It was not totally separated, in order to prevent suicides and sexual offences. The windows in the cells had glass in them. Between 1998 and 2000 the windows were fitted on the outside with shutters made of steel plates welded at an angle of forty-five degrees to ensure sound and visual insulation. On the inside they were fitted with steel bars. In January-February 2003 the shutters were removed throughout the detention facility.

(c)  Punishment cell

According to Mr Korobov, he was disciplined by the prison authorities and placed for seven days in a punishment cell in February 2000. The temperature outside was about minus 27-30oC and the cell was not heated. It measured 1.5 by 5 metres and was poorly lit. The floor was concrete. A pail, emptied once a day, served as a toilet. The bench was fastened to the wall during the day, so that he could neither lie nor sit. The applicant fell ill with a cold and had a fever. No medical treatment was provided despite his requests.

According to the Government, it was impossible to establish whether the applicant had indeed been placed in a punishment cell as the relevant records had been destroyed on expiry of the three-year statutory storage period. All the punishment cells in the detention facility had central heating, water supply and a sewerage system. The temperature was not lower than 18oC. The cells measured 5.4 sq. m. The walls and the floor were concrete. A metal bunk bed with a wooden cover was lifted and locked to the wall for the period between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Bedding was provided for the night’s sleep. According to the relevant medical records, Mr Korobov did not request any medical treatment in February 2000. Under the relevant legislation, detainees were placed in a punishment cell on the basis of an order from the prison governor and an opinion from a prison medical officer. Compliance with the legislation was supervised by the prosecutor’s office.

3.   Mr Korobov’s medical care

According to Mr Korobov, no medical treatment was provided to him in April and October-December 2000, when he had an inflammation of the facial nerve, even after medicines had been delivered to him by his mother. As a result of the authorities’ failure to provide him with proper medical treatment, he developed a number of conditions. Hence, after he had been released from prison he had required medical treatment by urology and psychoneurology specialists. His eyesight had deteriorated.

According to the Government, the applicant was provided with the necessary medical care during the whole period of his detention, as confirmed by the relevant medical records. Hence, on 13 January 2000 he was diagnosed with an inflammation of the facial nerve. He was examined by a neuropathologist and provided with the necessary treatment. On 27 January 2000 his state of health was assessed as “functionally healthy”. He was examined on 5 April 2000 and provided with further treatment against inflammation of the facial nerve. Medication to treat his disease was available at the medical unit of detention facility IZ-37/1. No disorder was diagnosed during the applicant’s in-patient medical examination from 19 to 26 December 2000 in hospital no. 1 of the Ivanovskaya Regional Department for the Execution of Sentences. On leaving detention facility IZ-37/1 and penitentiary establishment OK-3/5 he underwent medical examinations and was certified to be “functionally healthy”. During the period of his detention Mr Korobov never requested treatment for urological or mental disorders.

4.  Conditions of detention in penitentiary establishment OK-3/5

Mr Korobov served his sentence in penitentiary establishment OK-3/5 in the town of Kokhma in the Ivanovskaya region, where HIV-positive prisoners were also held. Although housed separately, they used the same sanitary, medical and catering facilities and the same meeting room as the other prisoners.

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicants complained under Article 3 of the Convention about the conditions of their cells in detention facility IZ-37/1. In particular, Mr Korobov complained about the conditions in the punishment cell in which he had allegedly been placed in February 2000.

2.  Under the same Convention provision Mr Korobov complained that he had been exposed to the risk of contracting HIV in penitentiary establishment OK-3/5.

3.  Mr Korobov further complained under Article 3 about the alleged withholding of proper medical care during his detention in establishments IZ-37/1 and OK-3/5.

4.  The applicants complained under Article 5 of the Convention that their detention from 1 February 1998 until the detention order of 16 December 1999 had been unlawful, in view of the decision of the Ivanovo Regional Court of 3 December 1999. They complained under Article 6 of the Convention that they had been wrongfully convicted on the basis of inadmissible evidence and that their sentences had been too severe; that they had had inadequate time and facilities to prepare their defence on account of the conditions in facility IZ-37/1 and insufficient time to prepare oral pleadings at the trial; that they had had no access to the case file for preparing a request for supervisory review of the case following the decision of 4 May 2000; and that the investigating authority had failed to inform them of their procedural rights with regard to obtaining the medical expert opinion concerning the victim’s condition.

THE LAW

1.  The applicants complained about the conditions of their cells in detention facility IZ-37/1. In particular, Mr Korobov complained about the conditions in his punishment cell. The applicants relied on Article 3 of the Convention, which provides:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The Government submitted that the actual number of detainees held in the applicants’ cells, as well as information about the placing of detainees in punishment cells, was impossible to establish as the relevant documents had been destroyed on expiry of the statutory storage period. They referred to a report of 10 December 1999 in which the health authority, which regularly inspected the detention facility, stated that no substantial overcrowding in the cells had been observed on that date. The Government claimed that the conditions of the applicants’ detention in facility IZ-37/1, as described by them above, did not amount to a violation of Article 3. The complaint should therefore be rejected as manifestly ill-founded.

The applicants submitted that there had been less than one square metre of space per person in their cells. The conditions of their detention, as described by them above, had been similar to those in the Kalashnikov case (see Kalashnikov v. Russia, no. 47095/99, ECHR 2002-VI).

The Court considers, in the light of the parties’ submissions, that this complaint raises serious issues of fact and law under the Convention, the determination of which requires an examination of the merits. The Court concludes therefore that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. No other ground for declaring it inadmissible has been established.

2.  Mr Korobov further complained under Article 3, cited above, that when serving his sentence in penitentiary establishment OK 3/5 he had been exposed to the risk of contracting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) because HIV-infected prisoners, though housed separately, had used the same sanitary, medical and catering facilities and the same meeting room as the other prisoners.

The Government submitted that the applicant had not been subjected to the risk of contracting HIV. They asserted that he had been held in a penitentiary institution together with HIV-positive detainees in accordance with the requirement of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, set out in its reports on the inspection of penitentiary institutions in 1998 and 1999, and in implementation of the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe nos. R (89) 14 and R (93) 6.

The Government submitted that on 4 April 1997 the Central Department for the Execution of Sentences, then a part of the Home Affairs Ministry of the Russian Federation, had issued instruction no. 18/53-75, in which it had suggested that the heads of local administrative bodies within the penal system should introduce obligatory HIV testing of detainees and study the possibility of arrangements for isolated detention and outpatient treatment for HIV-positive prisoners. On 21 July 1999 the Central Department for the Execution of Sentences of the Federal Ministry of Justice had informed the heads of local administrative bodies within the penal system that the Federal Ministry for Public Health did not consider it necessary to create special conditions of detention for HIV-positive prisoners. No additional financial and human resources were required for their detention because, during the incubation period, they were considered to be functionally healthy. Shared catering and washing facilities and medical services should therefore be arranged for this category of prisoners, provided that disinfection measures were supervised by medical personnel. However, it was recommended that HIV-positive prisoners be held in separate isolated premises in conditions which ruled out the possibility of contracting and spreading HIV. As a result of strict compliance with the above requirements there had been no instances of HIV being contracted in penitentiary establishment OK-3/5.

The Government further submitted that, according to a report of the OK-3/5 prison authorities of 21 July 2004, the first HIV-positive persons had arrived in the facility in September 1999. They had been held in a separate building, no. 12, isolated from the other buildings. Mr Korobov had been held in building no. 8 during the whole period of his detention in OK-3/5. At the beginning, HIV-positive prisoners’ personal hygiene and catering facilities, as well as the storage, washing and disinfection of their eating utensils, had been organised in building no. 12. Those measures had been undertaken to allow the majority of the detainees of the institution to adjust to the fact that HIV-positive detainees were being held in the same institution. Since 2000, HIV-positive prisoners had been using the communal bathrooms at separate times, with subsequent disinfection of the premises. Since 2002 they had been having their meals in the communal canteen, at the last sitting. They had been using separate eating utensils which were washed and stored separately. Medical services were provided in a separate room of the shared medical facility, with disposable medical instruments being used. The prison authorities had employed all available means to prevent the spread of HIV. Since HIV-positive prisoners had first been detained there in 1999 there had not been a single case of HIV being contracted by a detainee of OK-3/5.

The Government concluded that the complaint was manifestly ill-founded.

The applicant argued that his prolonged detention in conditions in which he had feared infection with HIV constituted degrading treatment in breach of Article 3.

The Court reiterates that ill-treatment must attain a minimum level of severity if it is to fall within the scope of Article 3. The assessment of this minimum is relative: it depends on all the circumstances of the case, such as the duration of the treatment, its physical and/or mental effects and, in some cases, the sex, age and state of health of the victim (see Akdeniz and Others v. Turkey, no. 23954/94, § 97, 31 May 2001). In considering whether a punishment or treatment is “degrading” within the meaning of Article 3, the Court will have regard to whether its object is to humiliate and debase the person concerned and whether, as far as the consequences are concerned, it adversely affected his or her personality in a manner incompatible with Article 3 (see Albert and Le Compte v. Belgium, judgment of 10 February 1983, Series A no. 58, p. 13, § 22).

The Court observes that HIV-positive prisoners were held in establishment OK-3/5 on separate premises. They routinely used the same medical, sanitary, catering and other facilities as those for all the other prisoners, including the applicant. The applicant’s fears for his safety were based solely on the latter fact. He has not provided the Court with any evidence to prove that he had been exposed to the risk of contracting HIV in the circumstances. Having regard to the Government’s information about the measures adopted in order to prevent the spread of HIV and the fact that there had been no instances of HIV being contracted in establishment OK-3/5, the Court considers that the conditions of detention of which the applicant complained of do not disclose any appearance of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

3.  Mr Korobov also complained under Article 3 that he had received no proper medical treatment for an inflammation of the facial nerve in establishments OK-3/5 and IZ-37/1.

The Government contested that complaint. They submitted to the Court the applicant’s medical records and other information, as stated above, about the medical care provided to the applicant.

The Court observes that on 13 January 2000 the applicant was first diagnosed with an inflammation of the facial nerve. His condition had returned to normal by 27 January 2000, when he was examined by a doctor. He was next diagnosed with an inflammation of the facial nerve in April 2000. In December 2000 the applicant was admitted to hospital for one week for an in-patient medical examination. No disorder was diagnosed. His medical examination on leaving establishments IZ-37/1 and OK-3/5 revealed no disorder either. On the facts, the Court considers that the complaint does not disclose any appearance of a violation of Article 3.

It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

4.  The Court examined the other complaints raised by the applicants before it. However, in the light of all the material in its possession, and insofar as the matters complained of are within its competence, the Court finds that they do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention or its Protocols.

It follows that these complaints are manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares admissible, without prejudging the merits, the applicants’ complaint concerning the conditions of their cells in detention facility IZ-37/1;

Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.

Santiago Quesada Christos Rozakis 
 
Deputy Registrar President

KOROBOV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA DECISION


KOROBOV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA DECISION