The European Court will study the conditions in the Nizhny Novgorod remand prison where a seriously ill girl was kept for more than a year


23 September 2010

The Interregional Committee Against Torture has received an official notification that the Strasbourg Court has communicated Olga Gavrilova’s case to the Government. Now, by October 8, the Russian Federation will have to answer a series of questions asked by the Court in order to determine whether the girl’s rights have been violated.  

You may remember that in November 2007 the Interregional Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Olga Gavrilova who had been kept in remand prison IZ-52/1 in Nizhny Novgorod between August 2007 and July 2008.

The Committee’s application to the ECtHR stated that custodial placement of a 20-year old girl suffering from a number of diseases itself amounted to inhuman treatment. Lawyers of the Committee found Gavrilova’s detention unjustifiably cruel and ill-founded under procedural law.  Olga was kept in an overcrowded cell in the conditions that, judging by the ECtHR practice, could be considered inhuman.

The European Court asked the Russian Federation 4 questions:

– were Olga Gavrilova’s detention conditions in IZ-52/1 inhuman in breach of Article 3 of the Convention?

– did the applicant have an effective remedy?

– was Ms. Gavrilova’s detention period reasonable?

– did the State breach Ms. Gavrilova’s right to see her representative in the remand prison?  

In the nearest future the Russian Government will have to provide its observations under this case to the European Court.

Interestingly, available ECtHR judgments in relation to the Nizhny Novgorod remand prison concern the events of 2000-s (“Babushkin v. Russia”, “Buzychkin v. Russia). Detention conditions in IZ-52/1 in 2007-2008 will be assessed by the Strasbourg Court for the first time.

It should be noted separately that solution of the problems in question will directly influence Russian law regulating provision of legal aid to people in custody. The point is that the law in force only includes the detainee’s right to a lawyer. As for the procedure legal representatives should follow to get access to their clients under a civil, land law or labour case, or under an ECtHR case, this issue is not regulated in Russian law.

You can find more information about the case here.

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