Case of European Court of Human Rights, October 31, 2019 (case Ulemek v. Croatia)

Resolution Date:October 31, 2019

Preliminary objection dismissed (Art. 35) Admissibility criteria;(Art. 35-1) Exhaustion of domestic remedies;(Art. 35-1) Effective domestic remedy;(Art. 35-1) Six-month period;Remainder inadmissible (Art. 35) Admissibility criteria;(Art. 35-3-a) Manifestly ill-founded;Violation of Article 3 - Prohibition of torture (Article 3 - Degrading treatment) (Substantive aspect);No violation of Article 3 - ... (see full summary)


Information Note on the Court’s case-law 233

October 2019

Ulemek v. Croatia - 21613/16

Judgment 31.10.2019 [Section I]

Article 35

Article 35-1

Exhaustion of domestic remedies

Six-month period

Failure to exhaust preventive remedies counterbalanced by Constitutional Court’s overall ruling on the merits in compensatory proceedings: preliminary objection dismissed

Application duly lodged with the Court after obtaining the decision of the Constitutional Court in compensatory proceedings: preliminary objections dismissed

Article 35-3-a

Manifestly ill-founded

Application duly lodged with the Court after obtaining the decision of the Constitutional Court in compensatory proceedings: inadmissible

Facts – The applicant had served a prison sentence in two detention facilities in Croatia, namely Zagreb Prison and Glina State Prison. The prison regime and conditions of detention in these two prison facilities differed. As to the conditions of detention in Zagreb Prison, the applicant did not avail himself of the preventive remedy before the prison administration and/or the sentence-execution judge, which the European Court had already found in its case-law to be effective. As to the conditions in Glina State Prison, the applicant had made use of that remedy but, once his complaints were dismissed, he failed to complain to the Constitutional Court. The European Court had already found that lodging a complaint with the Constitutional Court was an additional required step in the process of exhausting the preventive remedy for conditions of detention in Croatia. Nevertheless, after his release from Glina State Prison, the applicant began a civil action for damages for the allegedly inadequate conditions in both facilities. After the dismissal of his constitutional complaint on the merits, the applicant lodged an application with the European Court within six months of receiving the Constitutional Court’s decision. He mainly complained under Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention about the inadequate conditions of his detention in both prisons and about the lack of an effective remedy in that regard.

Law – Article 35 § 1

(a) Effective remedies under Article 13 of the Convention in general and specifically with respect to conditions of detention in the case-law of the European Court

The Court had recently examined the structural reforms in the systems of remedies of different countries. These reforms had been introduced in response to the Court’s pilot and leading judgments concerning inadequate conditions of detention. The Court had thereby reaffirmed its case-law, according to which the preventive and compensatory remedies in this context had to be complementary.

(b) Exhaustion of remedies and compliance with the six-month rule in cases concerning conditions of detention in the case-law of the European Court

Applicants who were still in detention under the circumstances of which they complained were obliged to exhaust the available and effective preventive remedy before bringing their complaints before the Court.

However, in cases where unsatisfactory conditions of detention had already ended, the use of a compensatory remedy, such as a civil action for damages, was normally an effective...

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