Svinarenko and Slyadnev v. Russia: Metal Cages, Really?


Svinarenko and Slyadnev v. Russia was a case heard on September 18, 2013 by the European Court of Human Rights.  The case involved criminal defendants being detained in metal cages during their hearings on their cases.  The applicants were Aleksandr Svinarenko and Valentin Slyadnev, both are Russian nationals that live in the Yagodninskiy District of the Magadan Region of Russia.  They were both accused with the commission of violent crimes including robbery.  Both of the applicants based their applications on Article 3, which concerns the prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment, and Article 6 § 1, which is the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time.  Svinarenko and Slyadnev both alleged that they were subjected to “humiliating treatment” when they were forced to be in a metal cage for their trial in court.  Furthermore, their applications complained about the unreasonable length of the criminal proceedings against them.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that there was a violation of both Articles 3 and 6 § 1.  Svinarenko and Slyadnev were both awarded compensation of EUR 7,500 each (non-pecuniary damage).

Do you agree with the Court’s ruling? Was compensation the right form of relief? Is EUR 7,500 enough for the humiliation that both Svinarenko and Slyadnev underwent? Do you agree with the practice of keeping criminal defendants detained in metal cages when in court for their trials? Why would such a practice even exist anywhere in today’s world? Is it really necessary? I believe it is an unnecessary practice and I was quite shocked that this actually happened in today’s day and age.  Why would Russia have such a practice in place in their court systems? Is it to protect the judge or is there some other reason? What are your thoughts on this practice.

Image: Yahoo

Source: ECHR

Source: ECHR

3 comments

  1. The thought of placing an individual in a cage sounds on its face inhumane. In instances such as the former Egyptian Prime Minister Mubarak it is completely understandable if the individual is boisterous and impeding the judicial process. The individuals in this crime were solely standing trial for an alleged crime. The crimes were not overtly violent acts and these individuals did not impose a danger to the level that cages were necessary. In this instance, I agree wholeheartedly with the court finding that this was an overt violation of international law. Although these individuals are prisoners they are still entitled to be treated humanely and handcuffs were sufficient means in restraining these individuals. This also would imply to the jurors that these individuals are already guilty or more violent then they really are. It would be interesting to know if this was the first instance that Russian authorities restrained prisoners using cages or if this was just the first time that this incident received attention.

  2. I must disagree with my fellow colleague’s comment about it being okay in instances such as that of former Egyptian President Mubarak. The act of keeping a person in a cage during trial equating him or her to that of a wild animal is an excusable act and is rarely, if ever, justified. Defendants are restrained with handcuffs, leg restraints, and whatever else may be necessary depending upon the believed threat level that person poses. Since we have restraining measures such as these already in existence I see no need to throw a person in a cage, whether boisterous or not. I do agree on the prejudice this act may cause to the jury, however. Any person serving as a member of the jury is bound to assume the worst out of a person who was put in a metal cage throughout his entire trial. Prejudices like these are extremely harmful to having a fair trial and as a result behavior like this must never be repeated.

  3. This is unbelievable. There is no possible circumstance that can allow this treatment. In a way, this is a violation of due process. Putting someone in a cage throughout the duration of their trial not only affects the jury, as Bianca and Ahmad point out, but also removes the presumption of innocence.

    I am also shocked at the lack of attention this treatment is lacking. Although I am glad that the case made it to the Court, I am a little disappointed to see that Russia is not getting any other form of reprimand for this. I do not see a legitimate justification for this practice.

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