ECtHR - Boudraa v Turkey, Application no. 1009/16, 28 November 2017

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Country of Applicant: 
Algeria
Date of Decision: 
28-11-2017
Citation: 
Application no. 1009/16
Court Name: 
European Court of Human Rights, Second Section
Relevant Legislative Provisions: 
Headnote: 

The Court found that the conditions under which the applicant was detained between 3 November 2013 and 7 January 2014 at the Yalova police headquarters, exceeded the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention and attained the threshold of degrading treatment proscribed by Article 3. 

Facts: 

The case concerns an Algerian national who lived in Turkey between 2001 and 2003. In 2003 the applicant was deported to Algeria by the Turkish authorities. In Algeria he had been politically active and founded, with several other individuals, the Rachad Movement in Algeria. He alleges that he was imprisoned and subjected to various forms of ill-treatment in Algeria twice. In August 2013, he arrived in Yalova, Turkey, and on 3 November 2013 he was taken into police custody and was later placed in a detention room at the Yalova police headquarters, where he remained until 7 January 2014. On 27 December 2013 the applicant lodged an individual application with the Constitutional Court, complaining that the conditions of his detention at the Yalova police headquarters had amounted to ill-treatment. However, the Constitutional Court ruled that the administrative authorities had taken the necessary measures to protect the applicant’s physical and psychological health and as a result that the treatment of the applicant had not attained the minimum level of severity required to be described as inhuman or degrading treatment.

Before the Court the applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention about the conditions of his detention at the Yalova police headquarters. The applicant contended that the detention facility was not designed to hold foreign nationals in an immigration context for long periods of time, since there was no bed in the detention room and he did not have access to the open air at all, he was kept in the small detention room with no window and a functioning air conditioner.  He was detained along with two other detainees and he had to share the cell with more than ten people and he was confined to the detention room and only exceptionally had access to the other parts of the facility.

Decision & Reasoning: 

Regarding the Government’s submissions concerning the subsidiarity principle, the Court ruled that, it is not the Court’s task to substitute its own assessment of the facts for that of the domestic courts since it is for the latter to establish the facts on the basis of the evidence before them. However, the Court is not bound by the findings of domestic courts and remains free to make its own assessment in the light of all the material before it. Cogent elements are required to lead it to depart from the reasoned findings of fact reached by the national judicial authorities.

Regarding the applicant’s complaint under Article 3 of the ECHR about the conditions of his detention at the Yalova police headquarters the Court observed that the Constitutional Court did not establish the facts surrounding the material conditions of the applicant’s detention in its decision. As a result, the Court decided to carry out its own assessment of the facts and examined the case in the light of the submissions made by the parties.

The Court proceeded to refer to the principles established in its case-law regarding conditions of detention, which provide that under Article 3 of the Convention the State must ensure that a person is detained in conditions which are consistent with respect for human dignity and that the manner and method of executing the detention measure in question do not cause that individual to suffer distress or hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention.

The Court ruled that, even assuming that the applicant had sufficient space, there has been a violation of Article 3 on the basis of the documents in the case file, because the detention facility in question was a place designed to accommodate people for very short periods and because the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has emphasised that, although immigration detainees may have to spend some time in ordinary police detention facilities, given that the conditions in such places may generally be inadequate for prolonged periods of detention, the period of time spent by immigration detainees in such establishments should be kept to the absolute minimum.

Furthermore, the applicant was not provided with a proper bed or an individual sleeping place and he was obliged to sleep on concrete benches topped with a cushion, without pillows or bedding for sixty-six days, the applicant had to sleep in turns with other detainees or on the floor, given that the benches in the detention rooms do not appear to accommodate the number of persons detained on those dates. Last but not least the applicant did not have access to outdoor exercise, which is a fundamental component of the protection afforded to persons deprived of their liberty under Article 3, and provision thereof cannot be left to the discretion of the authorities; according to the CPT, all detainees – even those confined to their cells as a punishment – have the right to at least one hour of exercise in the open air every day, regardless of how good the material conditions might be in their cells.

As a result the Court found that there has accordingly been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

Outcome: 

The Court found a violation of Article 3.

Observations/Comments: 

This case summary was written by Asterios Kanavos, LLM student at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Case Law Cited: 

ECtHR- Kaja v. Greece, (no. 32927/03)

ECtHR - Dougoz v. Greece, Application No. 40907/98

ECtHR - Khlaifia and Others v. Italy ([GC], no. 16483/12,15 December 2016

ECtHR - Kyriacou Tsiakkourmas and Others v. Turkey, no. 13320/02, 2 June 2015

ECtHR - Alimov v. Turkey, Application no. 14344/13, 6 September 2016

ECtHR - Charahili v. Turkey, no. 46605/07, 13 April 2010
Other sources cited: 

The Standards of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the CPT”) concerning the conditions of detention of foreign nationals.

Authentic Language: 
English
State Party: 
Turkey