Russian Detention Centers Found Unsatisfactory

The European Court of Human Rights has rendered three judgments today regarding Russian detention centers. Firstly, in Allahverdiyev v. Azerbaijan, Allahverdiyev was charged with kidnapping and was taken into custody in March of 2008 for a three month pre-trial detention. He appealed his detention to no avail. In June 2008, the district court extended his detention by a month. Finally, in March 2009, he was convicted as charged and sentenced to two years imprisonment. Allahverdiyev’ relied on Article 5 §§ 1 (the right to liberty) and 3 (security) of the European Convention on Human Rights claiming that his prolonged detention in 2008 had been unlawful. The Court agreed with Allahverdiyev, and he was awarded 13,000 euros in damages.

Gorbulya v. Russia involved similar claims against Russian detention centers. Gorbulya was convicted of murder and robbery in December 2008. He alleged that the conditions of his detention in both the temporary detention facility in St. Petersburg, and in the correctional facility in the Sverdlovsk Region violated his human rights under Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment). He complained of extremely overcrowded cells, degrading sanitary conditions, and not enough adequate medical care. The Court held that Article 3 was violated and awarded Gorbulya 25,000 euros in damages.

Lastly, in Gordiyenko v. Russia, Gordiyenko was arrested on the suspicion of drug trafficking in June 2005. He was beaten and mistreated for several hours by his arresting officers who were trying to make him confess. He relied on Article 3 claiming that the officers had repeatedly beaten him, damaging his kidneys and causing other injuries. Interestingly, the Court found there to be no violation of Article 3. Surely, in the United States a case concerning police brutality would cause a media frenzy.

Should prisoners receive better treatment in international detention centers? Russia is frequently in the spotlight these days, do you think other countries should intervene to insure Russia is not overstepping its boundaries?

Source: HUDOC



  1. Being deprived of your right to freedom and facing imprisonment is already a hardship that is difficult to bear for those sentenced to detention centers. Although those individuals faced with such charges are paying for their actions they have committed against the population and the government, they should not have to fear for their lives while already being confined to small cells and a complete change of lifestyle. I feel that the question isn’t better treatment, but that they should be receiving their rights as individuals. Although they are prisoners, they still retain a certain amount of human rights, which should be respected. I was a little surprised after seeing that the court in Gordiyenko v. Russia had found that there was no violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights for someone who was beaten and mistreated while in detention, yet in Gorbulya v. Russia the prisoner was awarded 25,000 euros in damages, simply because of overcrowded cells. It would seem as though an individual’s health and security should trump an individual’s living conditions.

  2. Prison is not intended to be the Shangri-La, but that does not give Russia (or any nation) carte blanche to provide inhumane living facilities or to beat inmates. Russia should be held accountable for their mistreatment, but this should be done through appropriate avenues. International intervention is a slippery slope toward infringing on State sovereignty. (While Russia clearly has no respect for State sovereignty, the rest of the world should hold itself to a higher standard.) There are certainly legal avenues which can be pursued, but many of those will need to arise internally. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is probably in the best position to address these issues. In my opinion, in human rights disputes the ECHR has a tendency to err on the side of caution (against the State), Gordiyenko notwithstanding. Russia has obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a party. Unfortunately, like many multilateral agreements, domestic implementation is left to the “competent authorities” which translates into it being enforced at the whim of the State.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *