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Home arrow newsitems arrow ECHR condemns Ukraine for jailing and ill-treating a Handicapped Russian in Crimea before 2014

ECHR condemns Ukraine for jailing and ill-treating a Handicapped Russian in Crimea before 2014

Written by ACM
Thursday, 19 March 2020

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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/-  It's after incidents Between the successive Presidencies of Yushchenko (2005-2010) and Yanukovych (2010-2014), that a Handicapped Russian, WheelChair-bound, faced Criminal Prosecution and Prison Detention, at Crimea, for the comparatively Minor accusation of allegedly having "Threatened" a Policeman, who had vainly Detained his Son at an unrelated Murder Case, and "Punched" a local Official, that he considered responsible for having Cut Electricity to his restaurant, in addition, (Disputes on which, Curiously, Nothing is said by the ECHR's judgement published Today).

A. K. Vagapov, Despite being Aged 55 and Suffering from "the Most Severe Level of Disability" ("Category 1"), with "Paraplegia of his lower Limbs", since "a Gunshot Wound to his Spinal cord", leaving him "WheelChair-bound" during 24 Years, provoking also "a Skin ...Ulcer", Nevertheless, he was "remanded in Custody, Pending Trial", right from the Start of the Investigation, afterwards Condemned into "3 Years ImPrisonment", and later Jailed. He was Released only towards the End of September 2013, after "having Served his sentence in Full", ECHR observed.

"During his Detention", he had to be Treated for "Aggravated" "PyeloNephritis", and underwent "Surgery" for that Ulcer, was "Diagnosed with Aggravated ...Bronchitis", and found with "a Black Burn Wound" and "a Burn Blister" on his Feet, (later "Diagnosed" as "3rd Degree -out of 4- ...Burns") that "Failed to Heal", added to an "Aggravation" of his Skin Ulcer (advanced into a "PuruloNecrotic Stage, with ...Fistulas"), but also to "Urinary InContinence", "Acute Conjunctivitis of both Eyes", "a Purulent Inflammation of ...Cellular Tissues" (with an "Abscess" which should "be Surgically Drained" : something reportedly "Contra-Indicated in the ...Conditions pertaining" in his Detention area), and even "a Broken Rib" (sic !) with "Pain in the Chest area", (etc)...

But the "Request(s)" of his "Lawyer" for "a Panel of Medical Specialists" to Examine the ImPrisoned Handicapped man in order "to determine his State of Health and Medical Needs", and Whether it was "Possible to Meet those Needs", or not, inside his place of Detention, or at least to "Allow a Civilian Doctor to Examine" him, were Both Rejected by the Ukranian Authorities.

Thus, meanwhile, Vagapov "had Refused the Treatment(s) recommended by ...These Doctors", (of the Prison System), Complaining that they had "Understimated" the "Poor Condition of his ...Health", and that he had been "Denied Access to the Doctor of his (Free) Choice".

+ In Addition, that Prison "had Not been Adapted for WheelChair-bound detainees", Obliging him to be "Dependant on other InMates for his Basic Needs", (f.ex.,  "Toilet", "Shower", "Meals", etc), "Deprived of daily Walks", stay "Held in a Cell measuring about 11 sq. m and Shared by 3 Inmates, with No Space for any Movement in a WheelChair", have "Fewer Meetings with his Lawyer..., as ...his CellMates had had to Carry him", also provoking "several Accidents..., such as Burning his Feet with Hot water, and Breaking a Rib (Comp. Supra), etc, while "the Physical Conditions of his Detention had been Poor".

=> Therefore, the Jailed Handicapped man "complained to the ECHR that "the Conditions of his Detention", "with regard to his Physical DisAbility", and that "Medical Treatment" were "InAdequate", and Violated the "Article 3" of the PanEuropean Convention on Human Rights, which Prohibits "Torture or ...InHuman/Degrading Treatment", in any circumstances.

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Russia indicated that "they did Not Wish to exercice their Right to Intervene in the proceedings" (given also the Russian Nationality of the Jailed DisAbled man), as ECHR noted.

As for the Ukranian Government, it Claimed that, "Although" that Jail "had Not been Adapted for WheelChair-Bound Detainees", nevertheless ,"2 people from the Staff (would) have been Alloted to Assist" the DisAbled prisoner.

ECHR "took Note of the (Ukranian) Government's Acknowledgment of the Lack of technical Arrangements" for "the detention of individuals with physical Disabilities", and "reiterate(d) that", as a matter of General Principle, "where the Authorities decide to place and Keep a Disabled person in continued Detention, they should demonstrate Special Care in Guaranteeing such Conditions as Correspond to the Special Needs resulting from his or her Disability".  

On the Controversy whether the Handicapped Prisoner "had been Assisted by ... fellow InMates, or by the (Jail's) Staff" (Comp. Supra), ECHR observed that the Ukranian "Government did Not provide Any Details in that connection", Not even "whether the ...Staff had been Trained or had the Necessary Qualifications"...

Moreover, the Ukranian "Government" did Not Say Anything "on the Incidents which led to ...sustained boiling-water Burns in the course of taking a Shower ..., and having his Rib Broken", as Vagapov had Denounced, (Comp. Supra), ECHR notes, pointing at the incredible Helplesness into which Handicapped People may fall, if they are Obliged to live their EveryDay Life in outlets Deprived of the slightest Facility for Autonomous Movements, (as, f.ex., Metalic Bars, etc)...         

=> "Therefore", the PanEuropean "Court found Plausible... that the ... Injuries" were "a Result of the Failure to Meet" the Handicapped Prisoner's "Basic Needs, in Conditions that would Respect his Human Dignity". "This ...shows that the (alleged) Assistance of the (Jail's) Staff, IF Any, (Comp. Supra), "could Not have ensured (his) ...Autonomy or ...Physical and Moral Integrity".

Indeed, as ECHR had Already noted, at a previous decision on this case, when it had Initially raised relevant Questions to the Ukranian Government, in order to find out its reactions, it's also the f. UN Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment ..., Mr Manfred Nowak", who stressed that "Persons with Disabilities often find themseles in [situations of Powerlessness], for instance When they are Deprived of their Liberty, in Prisons, or Other Places", where "the  particular Disability of an individual may render him or her more Likely to be in a Dependent situation, and make him or her an easier Target of Abuse".                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

+Moreover, ECHR "refer(ed) to the Findings of the CPT (CoE's Anti-Torture Watchdog) in 2013, that Conditions in the Cells" of that Crimea's Jail, in general,"had been as Miserable as some Thirteen Years Previously (i.e. on 2000), when (it) had First Visited that facility...

>>> In Consequence, "and" given "the Cumulative Effects" of such Facts, ECHR Concluded that "the specific Conditions" of the Handicapped Prisoner's "Detention, in view of his Physical Disability, ...in particular, his InAbility to Access the various parts" of that Jail "Independently, including the Canteen and the Sanitation Facilities, and ...the Lack of any Organized Assistance" for "his Mobility ... or his Daily Routine, must have Caused him UnNecessary and Avoidable Mental and Physical Suffering, Diminishing his Human Dignity".                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

"That amounted to Inhuman and Degrading Treatment", in "Violation of Article 3, of the" PanEuropean "Convention" of Human Rights, ECHR Concluded.

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+ The Handicapped man had also Denounced to the ECHR that the Ukranian Court's decision to Condemn him in 3 Years of ImPrisonment was "an Arbitrary and UnNecessary measure", which "had Not been Based on relevant and Sufficient Reasons", and "had Failed to Take into Account (his) ...state of Health; it had Never Examined an Alternative, ... such as a Commitment Not to Leave the Town, or Bail", etc.  

In fact, an Initial "Undertaking Not to Abscond", imposed by a 1st Court, had been "Changed", by a 2nd Court, into "Remand in Custody", under Pretext of the alleged "Seriousness and the Nature of the Criminal Offences in issue", (Comp. Supra)...

But the ECHR found that "Neither the (Ukranian) Government's observations, Nor ... that Court ...had made an Appropriate Assessment of the Facts ... (on) Whether ... (this) was Necessary ..., in particular in view of the applicant's DisAbility". "Neither did (it) ...state Which Risks Justified the ... Detention on remand, (f.ex. the Risk of ...Absconding, Influencing Witnesses, or Hindering Investigation").

This was Contrary to "Article 5§1" of the PanEuropean "Convention" on Human Rights, which stressed that "Everyone has the Right to Liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following Cases, and in accordance with a Procedure prescribed by law ... (c) the Lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable Suspicion of having committed an offence, or when it is reasonably considered Necessary to prevent his committing an offence or Fleeing after having done so", EuroJudges observed.

=> Therefore, ECHR judged that the contested Measure "did Not Afford the applicant the Adequate Protection from Arbitrariness, which is an Essential element of the "Lawfulness" of Detention, within the meaning of Article 5§1 of the Convention", and,  "Accordingly, there has been a Violation of that provision" too.

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>>> In Consequence, it's "Unanimously" that the  Strasbourg's Court held that "there has been a Violation of Article 3 of the (PanEuropean) Convention" on Human Rights, because of Inhuman/Degrading Treatments (Comp. Supra) "on account of the specific Conditions of the applicant’s Detention ... in view of his Physical Disability", and "a Violation of Article 5§1 of the Convention", about Personal Liberty (Comp. Supra), Deciding to "Award" to the Victim "EUR 3.000, (three thousand euros)", "in respect of Non-Pecuniary Damage, Plus any Tax that may be chargeable", due to be Paid by "the Respondent State", i.e., in this case, Ukraine.

 

(../..)

("Draft-News")

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Recent developments proved that Europe can suceed to overcome challenges by aiming at great objectives, and this is needed also in 2009, said EU chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    - "It's in the name of Great Ideas, Projects, Ambition and Ideals, that EU can overcome" challenges, stressed Sarkozy at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, in conclusion of a dense 7 months EU Chairmanship. "It's even easier for Europe to have Great projects, able to overcome national egoism, instead of limiting itself only to small projects" (unable to do alike), he observed.     

- "Europe must remain Ambitious and understand that the World needs her to take Decisions". "The World needs a Strong Europe", which "thinks on its own, has convictions, its own responses, its imagination" : "A Europe which does not limit itself into following" others, (as it did in the Past, when it followed USA, f.ex. on Bosnia). On the contrary, "Europe should undertake its own responsibilities", he said, after a series of succes in stopping the War between Russia and Georgia, and organizing the 1st EuroZone's Summit in Paris, which incited the Washington DC G-20 Summit to extend similar decisions World-wide.  


    - "When you sweep it all under the carpet, prepare yourself for hard tomorrows", he warned. "What hinders decisions is the lack of Courage and Will, the fading away of Ideals", he stressed before EU Parliament's 2008 debate on Human Rights and Sakharov prize on Freedom of thought attributed by MEPs to Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia, followed by an EU - Turkey meeting on Friday.

    - "I don't abandon my convictions" and "I will take initiatives" on EU level also in 2009, Sarkozy announced later. "France will not stop having convictions and taking initiatives" on Europe. + "It's an Error to wish to pass over the Heads of those who are elected in their Countries" : "It's an integrism I always fought against"', he warned.
---------------------
French EU Presidency faced 4 unexpected Crisis :

- An institutional crisis, with the Irish "No" to EU Lisbon Treaty, just before it started. A geopolitical crisis, wth the threat of War between Russia and Georgia risking to throw Europe back to Cold-war divisions, on August. A World-wide Financial and Economic crisis, arriving at a bad moment before crucial 2009 EU elections. And even a Strasbourg's mini-crisis, with EU Parliament's roof curiously falling down, from unknown reasons, in a brand new building on August, provoking an unprecedented transfert of the 2 September Plenary Sessions...

But it wasn't enough to stop Sarkozy ! On the contrary, it stimulated him...
---------------------------------------

- "The better way to deal with the recent problems of EU institutions (as the "3 NO" by France, the Netherlands and Ireland) is to take them as a "Test" in order to find solutions closer to Citizens' concerns", said later in Strasbourg Sarkozy's new choice as Ministe for EU affairs, Bruno Le Maire.

- On the Institutional front, Sarkozy gave Time to the Irish to think about it, and stroke on December a deal including a New Referendum after the June 2009 EU Elections, in exchange of a promise to keep the rule of "one EU Commissioner for each EU Member Country", and some opt-outs on Defence and Fiscal EU policies, Abortion, etc. If the Irish get a "Yes" Majority, then the institutional package could be completed in 2010 or 2011 on the occasion of Croatia's probable EU accession.

He was accused in Strasbourg to upgrade EU Council and downgrade EU Commision, but he replied that "strong Political initiatives by EU Council reinforce also the more technical role of EU Commission, under the political-technical leadership of its President", all 3 "working together with EU Parliament".


- But, meanwhile, Sarkozy energetically spearheaded an Historic 1st Summit of EuroZone's 15 Heads of State and Government at EU's core, exceptionally enlarged to a partial participation of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on October 12 in Paris' Elysee palace, which started to tackle succesfully the growing world Financial crisis.

    It also paved the way for its endorsement by a subsequent Brussels' 27 EU Member States' gathering, before it all come to Washington's G-20 Summit. And "Europe was united, it asked for the 1st G-20 Summit, and it will also organise the next G-20 Summit on April in London", he observed.   

 But a Conference with EU, Russia, African and other Developing Countries, hosted in Strasbourg shortly after Washington G-20 Summit by the French EU Presidency, took a Resolution asking to enlarge participation to Global Economic Governance. Many found, indeed, illogic and unacceptable that f.ex. states as Turkey were given a seat at G-20 level, while all African Countries, and even the African Union itself, representing the greatest Continent on Earth, were excluded...


    Meanwhile, even USA''s "Paulson No 3" Plan, was, in fact, inspired by Europe's No 1 Plan", Sarkozy observed, largelly applauded by MEPs.

    And "Europe showed Solidarity" by mobilizing some 22 Billion credit for Hungary, 1,7 billion for Ukraine, as we do nowadays for Baltic States, etc., he added.

    The move on Economy was extended on December by an EU stimulus' plan totalling some 200 billion Euros, including 5 Billions released by EU Commission for big Projects, as well as various parallel National plans for Economic revival, (fex. 26 billions in France alone). They might appear limited, compared to USA President-elect Obama's reported plan to boost the American economy with 800 billion $, but at least succeded to overcome Europe's divisions for the first time on Economic governance, opening new horizons.

- The French President stressed even harder the unique role of an active EU Council's chairmanship, when he moved swiftly and efficiently, at the beginning of August, to succesfully stop War between Russia and Georgia, at the last minute, which threatened to bring Europe back to Cold War division.

"We (EU) also wanted to avoid a situation like in Bosnia, in the Past, when EU was absent, so that our American friends took their responsibilitues, and EU only followed", despite the fact that the conflict took place in Europe. Now, it was the EU who took its responsibilities".

A roadmap towards a new PanEuropean Security policy, before which all unilateral moves to place new Missiles (from USA or Russia) would be freezed, was proposed by Sarkozy after a meeting with Russian president Medvedev, at the eve of Washington DC's G-20 Summit.

Ukraine's "European" character was stressed at a Sarkozy - Jushenko Summit, September in Paris, while EU adopted on December an "Eastern policy", in which, "I'm convinced that our (EU's) future is to find with our Neighbours the conditions for Economic Development. Peace and Security, by explaining them that.. they must respect (Human Rights') Values, and adopt behaviors different from the Past", explained Sarkozy in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, the "Union for the Mediterranean" was created, since July's Summit if 45 Heads of State and Government in Paris, as "an organisation for a permanent Dialogue, that we need", mainly in order to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by bringing together, for the 1st time, Israelis and Arabs, where "Europe must be present, in order to avoid a frontal clash".

- "If Europe doesn't take its part for Peace in the Middle-East, nobody else will do that in our place", Sarkozy stressed.
-----------------------
    Meanwhile, other EU Agreements were brokered during the French EU Presidency on Immigration, (fex. common Asylum rules, etc), and Climat- Energy :

    - On Climat-Energy, the 2007 German EU Presidency had fixed a triple 20% aim for 2020 (20% renewable Energies, 20% reduction of CO2 emmission, 20% energy efficience/economies), and the 2008 French EU Presidecny realized that, making the necessary compromises in order to modernize EU's industry, but without throwing some former Central-Eastern European Countries into abrupt Economic break down risking "social explosion".

    - Defence-Security EU policy was mainly postponed for April 2009, since both German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy want to strike a deal with the new American president Obama in Strasbourg's NATO Summit.

    However, with all these 4 unexpected Crisis diverting attention to other urgencies, People wil wonder now, what happened to the famous deal proposed by freshly-elected French President Sarkozy on Turkey's controversial EU bid, back on August 2007, to continue EU - Turkey negotiations, but on the double condition that core chapters, intrinsequally linked with EU Membership, will be excluded, and that a collective Reflexion and Debate on Europe's future would start before the end of 2008.

    It was meant to reply to the crucial question : What kind of Europe do we want in 10 or 20 Years from now : A large Market, or a Political Europe, with a popular identity ? In Sarkozy's thinking, presented in his 2 landmark speeches on Europe in Strasbourg, shortly before and after the 2007 Elections, (on February and July 2007), Turkey's controversial EU bid would be incompatible with the second choice.

    It's true that EU Commision's Chairman, Jose Barroso, (who had notoriously declared, as former Portuguese Prime Minister, that he found "nonsense" the idea that Europe might become equal to the US), had repeatedly tried to avoid that Sarkozy's criticism on Turkey might start winning a larger audience in Europe, preferring a discrete "wismens' committee" work. And that most of the personalities later chosen in order to participate in a Committee on Europe's Future, are too much linked with Socialist parties and/or American policies, to be really critical of USA's notorious wish to impose Turkey to the EU, as Sarkozy had noted himself since March 2007..

     - "It's on EU Council's presidency to take political initiatives. EU Commission has other competences", stressed Sarkozy. The "European Ideal" is to "build Europe with the States, not against them". "Ask Europeans to chose between their countries and Europe won't work. You don't choose between your two parents : We must add them together".

    "France and Germany have an Historic Duty to work together, precisely because of what happened to the Past. We have to work hand by hand. We cannot be separated.It goes beyond me and Mrs Merkel today, Mr Schroeder and Mr. Chirac yesterday. It's not a choice, it's a duty to Europe and to the World".  "We need Germany, as Germany needs Europe". Compromise is inevitable, here as everywhere, and each one made some steps towards eachother's positions.

    But "it's true that Mrs Merkel didn't chose her Socialist partners, while I chose mine", Sarkozy said, in an indirect hint that the Socialist Minister of Finance in Germany might be a cause of minor past disagreements in Economy, which were overcome in recent negotiations.

    "We (France and Germany) have particular duties in Europe", but "in a Europe of 27 Member States, it's not enough for France and Germany to agree between them.

    "I always thought that Great Britain has a special role to play in Europe. ... Now, everybody "saw what it cost payed the UK for having been too exclusively open towards the US (and) Financial services. Europe needs the UK, but also the UK needs Europe" :- "We were able to face the hardest moment of the Financial crisis because the UK clearly chose Europe", stressed Sarkozy, reminding Gordon Brown's exceptional participation to the Historic 1st Heads of State/Government Summit of EuroZone, October 12 in Paris (See EuroFora's Reportage from Elysee Palace then).

     - "Some look at Europe with old glasses aged 30 years ago. While we must look at her in relation to what it will be in 30 years" in the Future, Sarkozy concluded.

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