European Court of Human Rights
29 October 2013

Facts

The applicant, Mr D.F., was convicted of rape and indecent assault on minors and sentenced to thirteen years of imprisonment. He was kept in Daugavpils Prison for over a year where 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. He made many applications to be moved to a special prison for detainees who had worked for or collaborated with the authorities. His requests were repeatedly rejected because the Prisons Administration did not find it established that he had been a police informant. He was eventually transferred to the special prison.

Complaint

The applicant complained that he had been unable to obtain a transfer to the special prison, to which he had been entitled by law, and that as a result he had been subjected to violence, humiliation and physical and mental suffering in Daugavpils Prison.

Court's ruling

The Court stated that prisoners charged with sexual offences were generally exposed to a heightened risk of violence by other prisoners. The fact that the applicant had collaborated with the police made him even more vulnerable. Furthermore, any transfer of vulnerable prisoners had to form part of a carefully designed strategy for dealing with inter-prisoner violence. The Government had not submitted information of the existence of such strategy. The Court also lacked information on any specific steps taken by the Daugavpils prison administration to address the applicant’s vulnerability.

Given the applicant’s fear of the imminent risk of ill-treatment for over a year and the unavailability of an effective remedy to resolve that problem, the Court ruled that there had been a violation of Article 3.

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