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Accueil 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

Ecrit par ACM
Thursday, 19 March 2020

 echr_march_2020_eurofora_400

*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.

-------------------

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.

----------------

+ 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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Hu Jia's prize brings SAKHAROV's wife to "EuroFora" on murders of Journalists Politkofskaya, Gongadze and Adali :

- Elena Bonner : "All Journalists' murders must be fully investigated", without Double Standards.                                                                                    

During a special Mega-Event to celebrate 20 Years of SAKHAROV Prize for "Freedom of Thought", attributed in 2008 by EU Parliament to jailed Chinese Cyber-Dissident Hu JIA, the move was reinforced by strongly criticizing the persisting impunity in three cases of Journalists' Murders, such as POLITKOVSKAYA in Russia, GONGADZE in Ukraine, and ADALI in Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.

Any bureaucratic doubt about whether Cyber-dissidents like Hu JIA might have, or not, a right to be protected as all Journalists must be, particularly when they take risks to search, find and publish original and critical News on issues of general interest to the society, could not resist to the emotion provoked by the message of his Wife, Zeng JINYAN spectacularly transmitted at a big screen in EU Parliament's hemicycle :

- "The most important and most interesting thing he did was to ... say the Truth :.. to write about the phenomena he observed... He never stopped Publishing.. on websites, so that the Public could learn about the reality .. and understand it.  In my view, this has been his greatest contribution", stressed the young wife of the jailed man, eager to cite also the cases of other critical journalists who faced various kinds of "harassment".

 - "Welcoming all those who have suffered for defending Human Rights", EU Parliament's President, German MEP Hans Gert POETTERING, who had invited to Strasbourg all former Sakharov prize-winners from various Countries throughout the World, said that "China needs Europe, and Europe needs China : A great nation" with which "we want to have a good relationship", "association and ..friendship". "But we are never going to stop our fight for Human Rights, and No Government can expect this from us".

    - "It's impossible  to achieve goals of Peace, if Human Rights are left out. In fact, Peace and Human Rights are intrinsequaly linked", added POETTERING.

    It's in this spirit that MEPs adopted, on Thursday, a Resolution denouncing that "the criminal
investigation and trial following the murder of (a) Journalist ...raises serious concerns with regard to transparency and respect for the rule of law", when a "brutal killing has not yet been fully investigated and solved in a satisfactory way".

    The text refered to dissident Journalist "Anna POLITOVSKAYA", a critic of Tchechen conflict, killed some years ago in Moscow, where Russian Authorities have found, arrested and are currently judging two executants, while also searching to arrest also a 3rd one, allegedly escaped in Belgium. But they have not yet found the instigators.

     Similar texts were adopted recently also on dissident Ukranian Journalist Georgiy GONGADZE's murder, for which Ukranian Authorities have at least found, arrested and condemned 2 executants to 12 and 13 Years of jail, but not yet the instigators. For that purpose, they recently accepted an International Experts team to participate to the investigations.     

But, it's only for the Murder of dissident Turkish Cypriot Journalist ADALI, in the occupied territories of Cyprus, that Turkey has NOT yet found ANYONE responsible, and even claimed recently inside CoE that it would be "impossible" to do so !    

These astonishing differences exist despite the fact that ECHR condemned alike Ukraine and Turkey with 2 Judgements on the same year : 2005, for the murders of  Journalists GONGADZE and ADALI, strong critics of Corruption in Ukraine, and of Ankara's policies on mass-influx of Turkish Settlers in the Occupied Territories of Cyprus, respectively.    

Regarless of that, CoE's Committee of Ministers, who is entrusted with the duty to supervise execution of ECHR's judgements, has just asked Ukraine's Government to reply to further questions on Gongadze's murder before March 2009, while Turkey, curiously, got a longer postponement for answering questions on Adali's murder, until June...   

A comparison of these cases, raises serious questions about Double Standards :

------------------------

On TRANSPARENCY :
--------------------------
    On Gongadze's murder, CoE's body speaks even about the participation of
"an INTERNATIONAL group of Experts" in the Investigation, (f.ex. of "Tape Recordings"), accepted by Ukraine.
    On the contrary, on Adali's murder, CoE is obliged to repeatedly ask (for a 2nd
time) Turkey whether, at least, it informed the victims' Family, or not...
------------------------------
- On EFFICIENCY :
-----------------------
On Gongadze's murder, CoE formally "recalls that the Committee (of Ministers) ..URGED the Ukranian authorities.. to TAKE ALL NECESSARY INVESTIGATIVE STEPS TO ACHIEVE CONCRETE and VISIBLE RESULTS in the INVESTIGATION, aimed at the Identification of the INSTIGATORS and Organisers of the Murder", and "STRONGLY INVITED the Ukranian Authorities to provide information on the PROGRESS IN THE INVESTIGATION", before MARCH 2009.

But, on Adali's murder, on the contrary, CoE's body merely .. "took note" of the "arguments presented by" Cyprus, which denounce the absence of any proof of new "investigation" by Turkey. Following Turkey's own suggestion (!), it simply "noted" that there is "no limitation period" for "any new element" to "lead potentialy (sic !) to a Re-Opening of the Investigation". Without saying who might find any such "new" fact, since Turkey stoped searching... It also POSTPONED the issue until .. JUNE  !
-----------------------
 - On the PUNISHMENT OF THOSE RESPONSIBLE :
----------------------
 -  On Gongadze's murder case, Ukranian Authorities already arrested and condemned, at least 2 suspects, to 12 and 13 Years of jail. And on Politkovskaya's murder at least 2 suspects are judged, and a 3rd one "wanted".

On the contrary, on Adali's murder case, the Turkish authorities simply claim that "it had not been possible to obtain new .. information .. on the basis of which criminal charges could be brought against ANY person" !...

Moreover,  a LETTER sent by Turkey ...2 Years after CoE's 2006 call to re-investigate anew Adali's murder case, is totally EMPTY of Facts ! As Cypus' Delegation denounced earlier, Turkey's Letter ONLY CLAIMS that a "New Investigation" was made without any result, but does NOT even cite ANY FACT to prove it :

F.ex.,on the crucial issue of the "MOTIVATIONS" behind Adali's murder, noted by ECHR, Turkey MERELY CLAIMS that "all allegations  were investigated; without result", but OMITS ANY FACT TO PROVE IT !..(It doesn't even remind which were these "allegations").. .

+ On ECHR's astonishment that the Turkish Occupation regime didn't produce any "BALLISTIC REPORT" on the Shots which murdered Adali, Turkey again repeats, 12 years later, that, still, even until now, "it  was not possible to obtain the BalisticReport"...

- As for the astonishing absence of key-WITNESSES' Testimonies, denounced by ECHR, Turkey agains repeats various pretexts avoiding to reveal anything, (Fex. that a person "left" the Occupied Territories  "on 2002", or that another witness was heard, but without revealing nothing of what he said, etc).

Turkey obviously "FAILS TO MEET THE CRITICISM made BY THE COURT" for lack of any efficient Investigation in Adali's case, concluded Cyprus' Government.
---------------------------------------------
Replying to our Question which COMPARED these 3 outstanding cases of "JOURNALISTS MURDERS", Adali, Gongadze and Politkovskaya, in order to avoid "Double Standards" by asking from Ukraine and Russia more than what is asked EU candidate Turkey, many European personalities were critical /

They criticised Ankara's recent claim at the CoE to stop investigating, because it would be "impossible to find anyone" responsible for the 5 bullet shots which killed Kutlu ADALI in front of his Family Home, contrary to the other two Journalists' murders, where Ukraine and Russia at least arrested the executants, searching now for the instigators :
----------------------------------

imag0103_400

    - "Where was that ? In Turkish Occupied Cyprus ? WITHOUT ANY DOUBT : Any murder of Journalist should be investigated in full ! All these Murders must be investigated !", replied the famous SAKHAROV's wife, Elena BONNER to our question on Adali's case, compared to Gongadze and Politofskaya.

    Elena Bonner spoke us EXCLUSIVELY shortly after being honored by the President
of EU Parliament on the occasion of 20 Years of her husband's SAKHAROV Prize.

    A strong personality, Sakharov's wife even had to struggle against an anonymous EU staffer who, astonishingly, tried to stop her speaking when h heard our question on "Turkey" (!) : - "Please, let me translate, she continues
speaking, don't stop us !", had to cry Sakharov's daughter, (a Journalist
herself), who was translating her mothers' reply, (obliged to speak louder to
make her voice heard despite the harassment).. (= + Audio Proof !)

    Earlier, Elena Bonner also fustigated "Double Standards" at another case, on
Western countries' attitude vis a vis Kosovo and the Kurds : -F.ex. "You have
recognized a few 400.000 Kosovars as an "independent" country, but you still
deny that to 30 millions of Kurds in Turkey !", she denounced.
-----------------------------
    - "This (ADALI's murder) is an issue which should be pursued by the Committee
for Human Rights. That's why we have one, and it's its duty to examine cases of
Journalists' murders as the one you referred to. You should bring the case in
front of that Committee", suggested in reply to our question on Adali, EU
Parliament's President, German MEP Hans Gert POETTERING.

    - "It's impossible  to achieve goals of PEACE, if HUMAN RIGHTS are left out :
in fact, Peace and Human Rights are intrinsequaly linked", added POETTERING.
--------------------------------------
    + "For us (European/International Federation of Journalists) it's clear :
Whenever a Journalist is Murdered, the Investigation should continue until
those Responsible are found !", replied earlier to another question on ADALI
EFJ/IFJ's Secretary General, Aidan WHITE.

    Speaking as a matter of General Principle, White asked us for "concrete data"
on the execution of ECHR's judgement on Adali case, in order to "look at it in
depth" and "make a formal statement", in comparison with the other Murdered
Journalist case, also pending at CoE's  Ministers for completing its execution,
on Ukranian Gongadze.
----------------------------------------------------
     From EU Rapporteur on Human Rights, vice-President of EU Parliament Liberties' Committee, MEP Giusto CATANIA, we were told that, since there is an ECHR judgement in both Adali and Gongadge's cases, "Turkey must naturally execute the judgement and make a full and efficient investigation, until those responsible for the Journalist's murder are found and punished".

    Even if "we (Catania's "EuroLeft" Group) support Turkey's EU perspectives, this does not mean that Ankara should not behave properly. On the contrary, it means that they have to meet tough conditions, particularly on Human Rights", was added on the occasion of Adali's murder case.

    Moreover, "since you raise the issue of Mr. Adali's muder as a part of a Series of Journalist's murders, including fex. Gongadze, Politkovskaya, ao., tthen we (EU) could also act together with CoE's Commissioner on Human Rights, Thomas HAMMARBERG, it was suggested.

    - "We (EU) must step up efforts against the problem of IMPUNITY : Real Peace cannot exist without Justice",  stressed also this week at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, French Minister on Human Rights, Mrs Rama YADE.
------------------------
                     

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