The applicant, Mr. F., was serving his sentence in Daugavpils prison. He was allegedly subjected to violence by other inmates because they knew he had acted as a police informant and was a sex offender. The prison administration frequently moved him from one cell to another, exposing him to a large number of other prisoners.
The applicant complained that failure ensure his safety violated the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 3 of the Convention.
The Court noted that prisoners suspected or convicted of sexual offences and prisoners who have previously collaborated with law-enforcement authorities were at a particular risk of inter-prisoner violence. The Court reiterated that the national authorities have an obligation to take all steps reasonably expected to prevent real and immediate risks to prisoners’ physical integrity, of which the authorities had or ought to have had knowledge. The Court stated that moving a prisoner away from a cell in which he has been exposed to threats would certainly be an appropriate and, at least in the short term, adequate measure. On the other hand, if such transfers take place frequently and on a regular basis without any clearly identified purpose that appears to be an approach that is at odds with protecting vulnerable prisoners from the general prison population. The Court emphasized that any transfers of vulnerable prisoners should form part of a carefully designed strategy for dealing with inter-prisoner violence. Taking into account that the applicant experienced fear and anguish of the imminent risk of ill-treatment during the period of more than one year he spent in Daugavpils Prison, and the unavailability of a domestic remedy that would have resolved the situation, the Court found a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.