Case of European Court of Human Rights, December 13, 2011 (case Laduna v. Slovakia)

Resolution Date:December 13, 2011
SUMMARY

Violation of Art. 14+8 No violation of Art. 13 No violation of P1-1 Non-pecuniary damage - award

 
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Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 147

December 2011

Laduna v. Slovakia - 31827/02

Judgment 13.12.2011 [Section III]

Article 14

Discrimination

Unjustified difference in treatment of remand prisoners compared to convicted prisoners as regards visiting rights and access to television: violation

Facts – The applicant was detained pending trial from 1 September 2001 to 9 February 2006, when he began a nine-year prison sentence. In his application to the European Court, he complained that at the material time remand prisoners did not have the same visiting rights as convicted prisoners and that, unlike convicted prisoners, they had no access to television.

Law – Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8: Prison restrictions on family visits and on watching television came within the ambit of private and family life under Article 8. Article 14 was therefore applicable. Detention on remand fell within the notion of “other status” within the meaning of that provision as, even though it could be imposed involuntarily and generally for a temporary period, it constituted a distinct legal situation that was inextricably bound up with the individual’s personal circumstances and existence. Further, as a remand prisoner the applicant was in a relevantly similar situation to the comparator group of convicted prisoners since his complaints concerned visiting rights and access to television in prison which were issues of relevance to all prisoners.

At the material time, remand prisoners were allowed to receive visits for a minimum of thirty minutes a month compared to the two hours allowed convicted prisoners. Moreover, for much of the relevant period the frequency of visits and the type of contact which convicted prisoners were allowed depended on the security level of the prison in which they were being held, whereas remand prisoners were all subject to the same regime, regardless of the reasons for their detention and the security considerations.

The Court was not satisfied that there had been any objective and reasonable justification for these differences in treatment. The provisions of the Detention Act 1993 requiring any restrictions on detainees’ rights to be justified by the purpose of the detention and the need to ensure order, the safety of others and the protection of property did not justify restricting remand prisoners’ rights to a greater extent than those of convicted prisoners and the arrangements had been criticised by the European...

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