Hearing procedure with the accused in a metal cage. Degrading treatment.
Valyuzhenich v. Russia 26.03.2019 (no. 10597/13)
The applicant was detained in a metal cage in the course of his criminal proceedings, which lasted 16 trial days, but also during his participation in the hearing from prison through videoconference. No office in the cage, which deprived the defendant of the possibility of taking notes during the trial. Communication with his lawyer with the permission of the Court and only with the presence of the police. Infringement of human dignity and degrading treatment prohibited by Article 3 of the ECHR.
The applicant, Mikhail Valyuzhenich, is a Russian national who was born in 1985 and is currently
detained in St Petersburg (Russia).
The case concerned his complaint about his confinement in a metal cage during criminal proceedings
In March 2012 the Sovetskiy District Court of Kazan found the applicant guilty of involvement in
large-scale drug dealing. During the trial, which consisted of 16 hearings, Mr Valyuzhenich was confined in a metal cage in the courtroom. There was no desk inside the cage, which made it impossible for him to take notes during the hearings. His lawyer could only approach him with the court’s permission. Any conversations between them had to take place in the presence of the guards.
The Supreme Court of the Tatarstan Republic upheld Mr Valyuzhenich’s conviction on appeal. In the
hearing he participated by video-conference. He was placed behind a metal partition in the remand
prison where he was being detained and communicated with the judges via a video-link.
Relying in particular on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Mr Valyuzhenich
complained that his confinement in a metal cage during the criminal proceedings against him had
violated his rights.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
The Court reiterated its previous case-law that the detention of a person in a metal cage in the courtroom is in itself an offense of human dignity – in view of the objectively degrading nature of the measure, which is incompatible with the standards of civilized behavior in a democratic society, and was also degrading in contravention of Article 3 of the Convention.
The ECtHR’s conclusions concerned both the applicant’s detention of a cage in the meeting room during his participation in the hearing and his participation in the hearing process via a video link from the prisons.
With regard to the present case and after examining the arguments of the parties, the Court concluded that it had found no reason to depart from its case-law in previous cases. It follows that the applicant’s detention of a metal cage in the courtroom during the trial and his participation in the courtroom by contacting the judges by videoconference was tantamount to degrading treatment prohibited by Article 3 of the Convention . Consequently, there has been a violation of this provision.
Violation of Article 3 (degrading treatment) – concerning Mr Valyuzhenich’s confinement in a metal
cage during the criminal proceedings
Just satisfaction: EUR 7,500 (non-pecuniary damage)(echrcaselaw.com editing).