Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Strasbourg Court Orders Russia to Reform Pre-Trial Detention System

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg issued a judgment ordering Russia to radically reform its pre-trial detention system. This is a so-called “pilot judgment” not only awarding compensation to victims, but also directing the country to implement legislative or other measures to remedy its systemic problems with human rights. In the Ananyev v. Russia judgment (which is not yet final and can be appealed) the court said: “Detainees suffered inhumane and degrading treatment because of an acute lack of personal space in their cells, shortage of sleeping places, limited access to light and fresh air and non-existent privacy when using the sanitary facilities.” The judges said a further 250 cases were pending before the court in which the applicants complained about their detention conditions. The Russian government will have six months, from the date on which the judgment becomes final, to produce a binding timetable to adopt a host of reforms aimed at improving conditions, the court ruled. These include the scaling down of prison populations, the provision of privacy to use the toilets in cells, ensuring that pre-trial detention is only used in the most serious cases as well as establishing maximum capacity for each remand prison.

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