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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

Parašė ACM
Thursday, March 19, 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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Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, speaking  to "EuroFora", denied rumors on Turkey's attempts to avoid an EU check of its obligations on Cyprus on December 2009 by blackmailing Nicosia to either accept any deal with intransigeant Turkish claims contrary to EU values on the island's political issue, or face threats against the territorial integriy of the EU island, semi-occupied by Ankara's army.

On the contrary, the incoming EU President-in-office, speaking exclusively to "EuroFora", promissed that he will act for EU Council's decisions on December 2009 assessment of Turkey's commitments on Cyprus to be kept.


    Bildt was asked to react to Cyprus' President Christofias' denunciation, earlier this week, that some want to exert "pressure" on Cyprus in order for Turkey to escape from its obligations.

    Avoiding to mention any precise Deadline, Bildt, however, warned about "Consequences" in case of "failure" to reunite Cyprus, but without saying whose responsibility an eventual deadlock might be.  

 Asked by "EuroFora" if there is a risk for "Turkey's commitments to "be forgotten or downgraded", "despite crystal-clear EU Council decisions and EU Parliament's latest Resolution on the assessment to make at the end of this year on Turkey's obligations", according to rumours that, instead of pressing Turkey, on the contrary, there might be "pressure on Cyprus", even "blackmail", as Media reported and President Christofias denounced this week, Bildt denied :

- "No ! ", he clearly replied.


- On the contrary, invited by "EuroFora", to "reassure that the Swedish EU Presidency (7-12/2009) will keep a fair stance, based on principles",  Bildt promised that "we (Swedish EU Presidency) will be very clear on all of the decisions taken by the (EU) Council".

He added, however, that "we have very numerous decisions that have been taken" by EU Council, as if he warned, also, on something else.

- "'I am not aware of any sort of statements coming out today''", Bildt started to say, on our reference to Cyprus' President Christofias" denunciation of Turkish lobby's manoeuvers this week, replying earlier to 'another"EuroFora"'s question during a Press Conference at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.


 - '"I know the issues that you' are concerned with'", he added, remembering  the statements he gave us when Sweden was chairing the PanEuropean CoE on 2008.

- "But, obviously, .. I think that Cyprus' Peace negotiations are extremenly important".

- And "'I think that we are at a unique moment in History, in the sens that both (Cyprus') President Christofias and Mr. Talat (the Turkish Cypriot leader), are personally convinced of the need to overcome the division".

 - "It's 20 Years since the fall of Berlin Wal, but we still have a Capital in Europe (Nicosia) that's divided". ,

- 'I don't that we should loose any time in overcoming that"..

 - ''We should be aware of the fact that success will bring great benefits, but failure, will also have major consequences. There will not be Status Quo' " It's a question of seeking a solution, or entering another situation, which is somewhat difficult to see exactly how that could evolve", he warned.

- "That being said, this is a negotiation for Cyprus itself", Bildt admitted.

 - ''We (EU) can support, the (EU) Commission primarily, be technically helpful, and then, of course, there is a specific role for the UN, when it comes to the Cyprus' situation".  

- "At least so far. It might not be for ever'. Certainly not for ever, but for this period of time", Bildt added, skiping now any reference to concrete threats on UNO's Peace keeping force in face of more than 40.000 Ankara's soldiers, contrary to some Press claims, (See previous NewsReports).


     Replying to another "EuroFora"'s Question,  if anyone might attempt to "impose a Deadline for the conclusion" of Cyprus' Talks on December 2009, Bildt avoided to speak of any precise Time-frame, and indirectly evoked the fact that  35 Years of Turkish Invasion/Occupation obviously durated too long :

'- "If I was from Cyprus, I would say that the Deadline was Yesterday ! '",
Bildt concluded.

Cyprus' Government Spokesman, Stephanou, reportedly pointed out that "a settlement is possible on December if Turkey changes its stance", accepting a solution for the reunification of the island based on UNO resolutiona and EU principles.

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Earlier, EU Chair, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld, highlighted an "historic opportunity" to "re-Unite" Cyprus according to EU's "basic Values"' (i.e. Human Rights) and 'Rules'", in a last-minute change of his draft speech to EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    The initial Draft spoke only about "healing" the island.

    Significantly, Reinfeldt linked Cyprus' reunification with Turkey's obligations to respect EU's "Values" and "follow" EU's "common Rules" :

    - What is "called Membership Negotiations" should lead, "at- the end of the day", into "sharing a set of common Basic Values (i.e. Human Rights, Democracy, etc), and following common Rules", stressed Reinfeld from the outset.
    
    - "This is something that those on the Outside (of the EU), are now  contemplating", up "to Ankara", for "a solution" on "Cyprus", observed the EU Chairman, immediately afterwards..  

    - "Both sides of Cyprus have been granted a historic opportunity to together reach an agreement on a solution to re-Unite the island, that has been divided for far too long", said Reinfeldt, modifying his draft text.


-  "The Swedish Presidency will act ...in accordance with Commitments EU has made, on the basis of Criteria that apply", "as a Honest Broker", he promised.    

- "To those on the inside (of the EU), allowing the membership process to become an opportunity to solve protracted disputes, can be tempting", he added.


    "In such cases, we must find solutions that can benefit both sides, and open up a way forward. Otherwise, it would jeopardize the progress we have made towards EU integration", Reinfeldt said.

***

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