Paraplegic Prisoner: being carried between two floors constitutes degrading treatment

JUDGMENT

Bayram v. Turkey 04.02.2020 (no. 7087/12)

see here

SUMMARY

The case concerned the conditions of detention of the applicant, who is paraplegic and cannot move
around by his own means.

The applicant, whose degree of physical incapacity is 92%, received no assistance between 11 April
2011 and 27 April 2011 in Batman Prison. On 27 April 2011 the prison authorities appointed two of
his fellow inmates to assist him. The period during which the applicant, being unable to move by his
own means, had to be carried between different floors, continued until 25 September 2012, and
therefore lasted some seventeen months.

PROVISION

Article 3

PRINCIPAL FACTS

The applicant, Fikret Bayram, is a Turkish national who was born in 1972 and lives in Batman
(Turkey).

Between 1990 and 1992 Mr Bayram participated in a number of terrorist acts, including three
homicides, in the name of the illegal organisation Hezbollah. During one of those acts he was
wounded by a shot fired by one of his victims and became paraplegic.

In 1995 he was found guilty and was sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment, before receiving a
presidential pardon. In 2000, after discovering that he had taken part in other acts, the authorities
placed him in custody on remand once again, then released him in 2004 during the proceedings. In
2006 he was given a life sentence.

Scores of medical reports were drawn up between 2007 and 2009, then in 2011 and 2013. The first
reports showed that he was suffering from a permanent disability, that he was obliged to use a
wheelchair and that his degree of physical incapacity was 92%. The more recent reports showed that
he had kidney and obesity-related disorders and that he was suffering from depression.

Following his conviction in 2006, and in spite of his medical condition, Mr Bayram was imprisoned in
Batman Prison in 2009, where he lived with several other prisoners in a living area spread over more
than one floor. His brother, who was one of the inmates, looked after him until his own release. His
care was then allocated to two other inmates in return for payment. They assisted him by carrying
him up and down the stairs and helping him with his personal hygiene needs, as he was completely
dependent as regards everyday activities on account of his disability. In 2012 Mr Bayram was
transferred at his request to Diyarbakir Prison, where the living areas were on one floor only and
there was a lift, with two wheelchairs available. A fellow inmate was appointed as his carer.

On 14 June 2013 the public prosecutor of Diyarbakir decided to order a stay of execution of the
applicant’s sentence in view of his state of health. He was released on the same day.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT…

Article 3

While in prison, Mr Bayram, whose degree of physical incapacity was 92%, had received no
assistance whatever between 11 April 2011, the date of the release of his brother, who had also
been in prison and had been looking after him, and 27 April 2011, when the Batman Prison
authorities had decided that two of his fellow inmates should assist him as paid carers. On
25 September 2012 Mr Bayram was transferred to the Diyarbakır D-type Prison and placed in a
one-storey dormitory, with two wheelchairs at his disposal.

The Court observed that, broadly speaking, the authorities had shown a degree of diligence in
providing for the applicant and improving his conditions of detention. There was nothing to suggest
that there had been any intention to humiliate or debase him during his period of detention. Two
sets of proceedings had been commenced seeking a presidential pardon for the applicant. He was
released on 14 June 2013 for health reasons, with an obligation to undergo a medical examination
every three months.

The Court reiterated that detaining disabled persons in an institution where they were unable to
move about by their own means amounted to “degrading treatment” within the meaning of Article 3
of the Convention. As regards the period from 11 to 27 April 2011, in Batman Prison, Mr Bayram had
been unable to move around autonomously: the living areas were on two different floors, and his
bed had been on the upper floor while the toilets and the door to the exercise yard had been on the
ground floor. The applicant had had to ask his fellow inmates for help in going to the toilets. On
27 April 2011 two inmates had been instructed to act as his carers, in return for payment. The period
of time during which the applicant had had to be carried up and down the stairs had ended on
25 September 2012, and had therefore lasted some seventeen months.

The Court noted that the Government had not explained why Mr Bayram had not been transferred
to the Metris R-type Prison, which was tailored to persons with reduced mobility, or else to a prison
where the living area was on one floor only and could therefore be more readily adapted to his
situation.

Finally, on 25 September 2012 Mr Bayram had been transferred to Diyarbakır Prison, where the
living area occupied one floor only and an additional wheelchair had been made available to him.
The toilet door had been widened specially for wheelchairs.

In the light of these facts, the Court therefore found a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on
account of the conditions of detention in Batman Prison from 11 April 2001 to 25 September 2012,
and no violation of Article 3 of the Convention as regards the conditions of detention in Diyarbakır
Prison from 25 September 2012 to 14 June 2013.

Just satisfaction (Article 41)

Having regard to the fact that as from 25 September 2012 the authorities had taken action to
improve the applicant’s conditions of detention and that they had granted him a stay of execution of
his sentence on 14 June 2013, the Court held that, under those circumstances, the non-pecuniary
damage sustained by the applicant had been sufficiently compensated for by its finding of a
violation.


ECHRCaseLaw

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