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Haupt 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

Geschrieben von 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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  Ten Years of ECHR : 1998 - 2008 show need of Revival in 2009-2010 coinciding with 2009 EU Election
   

A threefold, coordinated move by new Top French Political actors in the 2009 EU Parliament Elections, expressed in Strasbourg a will to boost Europe's Political dimension close to Citizens' concerns, going from protection of Economy to defence of Human Rights.    

The move met an exceptional ECHR's call for a "revival" of Human Rights' protection mechanism', in a Mega-Conference, early 2010.   

Obviously focusing on June 2009 Elections to EU Parliament, it involved from the outset the recently nominated "dual" Head of French Governing Party (UMP)  Michel BARNIER and Rachida DATI :

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     - "As President Sarkozy has clearly said, we (France) are in favor of a Strong, Sovereign and Independent, Political Europe, which protects its Citizens, and not for a large Super-Market, nor for a Europe under influence",

    "This goes for everything, including Energy", added to "EuroFora" the experienced former EU Commissioner, Minister of Foreign affairs, currently of Agriculture and Sarkozy's new pick as Leader of the Governing party UMP to EU 2009 Election, Michel BARNIER                                              .                             

  - Human Rights are important because they are at the Heart of the Political Europe that we aspire for : I.e. a Europe able to act and protect its Citizens, stressed also the New French Minister for European affairs, Bruno LE MAIRE, while meeting Strasbourg's Journalists at his first visit to the CoE.   

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This is one of the main interests for CoE, which is also a natural place for cooperation between EU countries and Russia or Turkey, which was recently helpful at the Middle East crisis, he added.

The move gained momentum with French Minister of Justice, Rachida Dati's main observations at ECHR's 5Oth Anniversary :   

- "While we are seeking Europe's Borders and Identity, you (ECHR) remind us also of its Values", Human Rights, Dati noted.   

Citizens seek more and more often ECHR's help, and the tempo accelerates, Europa awaits a symbol, while national legal orders are not freezed   

And she expressed "support" to ECHR President Jean-Paul Costa's call to satisfy the vital need to revigorate the PanEuropean Court by deciding big changes at a High-Level Conference open to a large audience, a kind of "Etats Generaux" of Human Rights, at the beginning of 2010.       

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It's not so much the recently growing number of applications for Russia or Ukraine etc, which seems to be Costa's main concern : In fact, the cases declared "admissible" are much fewer...    

But rather the persistent violations of Human Rights, sometimes very grave (ie. murders, torture, abritrary deprivation of liberty, oppression of freedom of speech, destructions of homes/properties, etc), despite numerous, repeated condemnations by ECHR. So that CoE's Ministers, due to "supervise execution" of ECHR's judgements, are overloaded.   

F.ex. most Media noted that Turkey still remains, even in 2008, the 1st among 47 CoE member States in the number of condemnations by ECHR :  257, compared to 233 for Russia, with a population more than the double..    

The problem is that it's not the 1st time at all : During all the last Decade 1998-2008, Turkey was condemned by ECHR much more than any other State, and for particularly grave violations :   

- 1.652 condemnations, compared to 605 for Russia, 548 for Poland, 494 for France, 476 for Ukraine, etc.   

Italy's second place with 1.394 condemnations is a misleading false appearance : In fact, most of them (999) concern mere "procedural delays" in national courts. Same for France.   

On the contrary, Turkey was condemned 180 times for Killings, 192 times for Torture or Inhuman/Degrading treatments, 340 times for arbitrary deprivation of Liberty, 528 times for "Unfair trial", and 169 times for oppression of Freedom of speech, (etc). And the latest, 2008 numbers, indicate no change in this trend, (See supra).   

The current Spanish CoE Presidency (November 2008 - May 2009) has made of the implementation of ECHR's judgements its 1st Priority.   

ECHR's President, Jean-Paul Costa, stressed in its 2009 Annual Press Conference, CoE Member States' obligation to implement the judgements, according to Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights.   

Moreover, if CoE's Committee of Ministers delays to ensure implementation, then, the repetition of violations in similar cases provokes a multiplication of complaints tabled to the Court, which overload the mecanism for the protection of Human Rights, denounced Costa.          

A series of Debates on "the situation of Human Rights in Europe", focusing on the "need to fight against Impunity" of perpetrators of grave crimes, is  currently prepared by CoE's Parliamentary Assembly for the session of June 2009.  

The final Timing comes shortly AFTER the EU Elections, but the main Reports should have been adopted before.

Meanwhile, French President Sarkozy and German Chancelor Merkel's recent call "for a Political Europe" in 2009 EU Elections (See earlier "correspondence from Paris, Elysee Palace), seems more and more endorsed also by other EU Countries' Top MEPs :

Thus, f.ex., EU Parliament's 1st vice-President, Greek MEP Mrs Rodi KRATSA, speaking to "EuroFora", agreed that 2009 EU Election would be a "naturally good" opportunity to debate what really interests EU Citizens : "The Future of a Political Europe, able to face the Economic Crisis, with a Culture and identity which attracts the People"

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(Photo taken earlier during Sarkozy's 1st visit at EU Parliament, in 2007 : Sarkozy and Merkel's Ideas for a Political Europe inspire also other EU politicians accross the continent)..
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