Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
09.10.2012

Facts

The applicant, Mr X., was a homosexual. He was remanded in a pre-trial detention for various crimes and was initially placed in a shared cell with heterosexual prisoners. He asked the prison administration to transfer him to a shared cell with homosexual inmates as he had been intimidated and bullied by his current cell-mates. He was immediately placed in an individual cell, which was small and dirty. He was deprived of any contact with other inmates and any social activity.

Complaint

Relying on Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 3 of the Convention, the applicant complained that he had been discriminated on the basis of his sexual orientation. He submitted that, on the account of his sexual orientation, he had been held in solitary confinement in a small cell with no contact with other inmates and no access to outdoor exercise.

Court's ruling

The Court noted that the concerns of the prison administration to the effect that the applicant risked suffering harm if he remained in a standard cell with other inmates were not unfounded but they were not sufficient to justify a measure of total isolation from other prisoners. The applicant did not request for solitary confinement he had expressly requested to be treated on an equal footing with the other inmates, benefiting from the possibility of outdoor exercise and social activities with others, whilst being protected from physical harm.

In the Court's view, the prison authorities had not performed a sufficient assessment of the risk for the applicant's safety. Thus it was not convinced that the need to take safety measures to protect the applicant's physical well-being was the primary reason for his total exclusion from the prison life. The main reason for the measure was his homosexuality. As a result the Court ruled that the applicant had suffered from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in violation of Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with Article 3.