Tomov and Others v. Russia (Application Nos. 18255/10, 63058/10, 10270/11, 73227/11, 56201/13, and 41234/16)

A selection of key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.

115. The assessment of whether or not the conditions in which an applicant had been placed reached the threshold of severity required for Article 3 to apply depends on the cumulative effect of all the circumstances of the case, including the length of time spent in those conditions. The assessment takes account of specific allegations made by the applicant which must be supported by appropriate evidence. The principles governing the evidentiary standards and the distribution of burden of proof in such cases, which emphasise in particular the respondent Government’s role in producing such documentary evidence as is in their possession, are set out in Ananyev and Others (cited above, §§ 121-25)

125.Nevertheless, the Court considers that a strong presumption of a violation arises when detainees are transported in conveyances offering less than 0.5 square metres of space per person (see the case-law cited in paragraph 117 above). Whether such cramped conditions result from an excessive number of detainees being transported together or from the restrictive design of compartments is immaterial for the Court’s analysis, which is focused on the objective conditions of transfer as they were and their effect on the applicants, rather than on their causes. The low height of the ceiling, especially of single-prisoner cubicles, which forces prisoners to stoop, may exacerbate physical suffering and fatigue. Inadequate protection from outside temperatures, when prisoner cells are not sufficiently heated or ventilated, will constitute an aggravating factor (see the case-law cited in paragraph 118 above).

127.As regards longer journeys, such as those involving overnight travel by rail, the Court’s approach will be similar to that applicable to detention in stationary facilities for a period of a comparable duration (see Fedotov v. Russia, no. 5140/02, §§ 66-70, 25 October 2005; Sizarev v. Ukraine, no. 17116/04, §§ 101-07, 17 January 2013; Nemtsov v. Russia, no. 1774/11, §§ 117-21, 31 July 2014; and Neshkov and Others v. Bulgaria, nos. 36925/10 and 5 others, §§ 249-50, 27 January 2015). Even though a restricted floor space can be tolerated because of multi-tier bunk beds, it would be incompatible with Article 3 if prisoners forfeited a night’s sleep on account of an insufficient number of sleeping places or otherwise inadequate sleeping arrangements (see Ananyev and Others, cited above, § 148, subparagraph (a); Sudarkov, cited above, § 68, and the case-law cited in paragraphs 121 and 122 above). Factors such as a failure to arrange an individual sleeping place for each detainee or to secure an adequate supply of drinking water and food or access to the toilet seriously aggravate the situation of prisoners during transfers and are indicative of a violation of Article 3.