The applicant, Mr. Van Droogenbroeck, was serving a prison sentence for theft. As a recidivist he was also placed “in government’s disposal” for ten years – a semi custodial care involving vocational training and work. On several occasions he was conditionally released and then rearrested for new crimes he had committed. The administrative board dealing with recidivists decided that Mr. Van Droogenbroeck would be released only after he saved a certain amount of money during his imprisonment.
Mr. Van Droogenbroeck being held at government’s disposal and an obligation to work violated Article 4 of the Convention.
The Court noted that Article 4(3)(a) of the Convention allows states to oblige prisoners do work which is required to be done in the ordinary course of detention which is imposed according to the Convention standards (Article 5(1)). The Court found that in the particular case the work which Mr. Van Droogenbroeck was asked to do did not go beyond what is "ordinary" in this context since it was designed to assist him in reintegrating himself into society. Accordingly, there was no violation of Article 4 of the Convention.