Russian authorities offered almost six thousand euro to a woman from Nizhny Novgorod as a compensation for inhuman conditions at the pre-trial detention center


19 May 2016

Russian authorities offered to conclude an amicable agreement with Valentina Petrova (name and surname are changed – author’s note) and to pay six thousand euro to her, acknowledging the conditions of her detention in Pre-trial detention center No.1 of Nizhny Novgorod in 2007 to be inhuman which is a violation of requirements of Article 3 of the Convention of Human Rights. However, the applicant and her representatives, human rights defenders from the Committee for 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.

(Photo: Gennadiy Cherkasov)

Valentina Petrova who has a mild form of mental retardation 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 auto 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, but litigated Pertova’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 by the state.

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 now, in 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.

«Russian courts decide on applying taking into custody, i.e. limitation of one of the most fundamental freedoms, using a generic formula and a stereotype cliché, while the Russian legislation offers a range of alternatives to custodial detention – for example, house arrest. In this case auto theft for joyriding is a criminal act, but not grave enough for a physically and mentally ill person, who is deemed innocent before the court decides otherwise, to be taken into custody and confined in extremely substandard conditions, – lawyer of the international legal department of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Ekaterina Vanslova comments. – We think that with regard to Valentina Russia violated not only provisions of Article 3 of the European Convention, but also of Article 5. With regard to this we decided to refuse concluding amicable agreement and we insist on full examination of the complaint by the European Court for all the mentioned violations».

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