Today the European Court of Human Rights passed a ruling on the case of Valentina Petrova from Nizhny Novgorod (name and surname are changed – author’s note). The Strasbourg judges acknowledged violations of three articles of the European Convention of Human Rights regarding to the applicant and adjudged a compensation in the amount of 7260 euro.
(Photo: Gennady Cherkasov)
Valentina Petrova who has a mild form of mental retardation since childhood and a range of other illnesses was taken into custody at Pre-trial detention center No.1 of Nizhny Novgorod in 2007 on suspicion of car thefts for joyriding by previous concert with two minors.
After the regional court refused to change such harsh measure of restraint as taking into custody lawyers of the Committee for Prevention of Torture filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
As a line of argument for their complaint human rights defenders informed the European Court not only about extremely substandard conditions of the applicant’s confinement in the detention facility (the cell where Petrova was taken was overcrowded, it was damp and cold, little light, no glass was in the windows), but litigated Petrova’s taking into custody itself: using this measure the state ignored Valentina’s state of health, that is why Petrova had a hard time to maintain personal hygiene. The facts that she had never been held criminally liable previously, that she lives with her parents and has a permanent employment (where she is well spoken of) were not taken into consideration either.
The complaint was communicated in 2010. In the comments on the case in 2011 Russia did not acknowledge that Petrova’s rights were violated with regard to any of the mentioned articles.
However, in February 2016, with its declaration Russia acknowledged that the conditions of Petrova’s confinement did not correspond to requirements of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which establishes that no one can be subjected to torture or other form of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. With regards to this the applicant was offered a compensation in the amount of 5 960 euro. Russia refused to acknowledge other violations.
The applicant and her representatives, defenders from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, refused to conclude amicable agreement, considering that the state took Petrova into custody in violation of Article 5 of the Convention, since she suffers a range of illnesses since childhood.
Today the European Court of Human Rights acknowledged that the Russian Federation violated the applicant’s right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment, the right for liberty and security and the right for effective means of the legal defense.
“Today’s verdict of the European Court indicates the practice, established in the Russian Federation, when the motivation for the arrest of the person is of general and abstract character, and Russian courts do not take into consideration the circumstances of the particular situation. The court points out that excessive period of the pre-trial detention in Russia represents a structural problem, – lawyer of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture Ekaterina Vanslova comments on the ruling of the European Court. – This is a big problem in our country, indeed – despite the overcrowding of the detention centers alternative ways of the restraint are used quite seldom even if there is such an opportunity.”