In Blohkin v Russia [2016] ECHR 300, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR has decided that Russia breached Article 3 of the ECHR when it detained a 12 year old boy with disabilities for 30 days in a temporary detention centre for juvenile offenders. The applicant complained that he had not received adequate medical care while in the temporary detention centre for  juvenile offenders and that the conditions of his detention there had been inhuman. The Grand Chamber concluded that “there has been a violation of the applicant’s rights under Article 3 on account of the lack of necessary medical treatment at the temporary detention centre for juvenile offenders, having regard to his young age and particularly vulnerable situation, suffering as he was from ADHD”.

Further, the Grand Chamber confirmed  the earlier Chamber decision (which the Russian Government did not  contest)  that  “the applicant’s placement for thirty days in the temporary detention centre amounted to a deprivation of liberty within the meaning of Article 5 § 1, noting in particular that the centre was closed and guarded, with twenty-four-hour surveillance of inmates to ensure that they did not leave the premises without authorisation, and with a disciplinary regime enforced by a duty squad.” It held that that there had been a violation of Article 5(1) of the ECHR as his placement in  the centre could not be justified under Article 5(1)(d) as “detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision”, as it had not served an educational purpose. The Russian courts on deciding on his placement referred to behaviour correction and the need  to  prevent  the boy from  committing further delinquent acts, neither of which constituted ‘educational supervision’.

The court held that there had been a violation of the boy’s Article 6 rights. The proceedings which had led to the boy being placed in the detention centre should have been considered criminal proceedings for the purpose of Article 6 despite the fact that they were not classified as criminal under Russian law. A majority of the court held that the child’s defence rights had been violated because he had been questioned by the police without legal assistance and the statements of two witnesses whom he was unable to question had served as the basis for his placement in the detention centre.

The UK based charity, the Mental  Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC) was granted permission to intervene in the case. The editors note that the intervention held weight with the judges of the Grand Chamber. The judgment quotes the submissions made by MDAC and adopts some key aspects of the submissions.

For a further important Strasbourg decision this month, see also the report on Kocherov and Sergeyeva v Russia in the Scotland Newsletter.