Kashavelov v. Bulgaria (Application no. 891/05)

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

39. In view of the gravity of the applicant’s sentence, his criminal record and his violent antecedents, the use of handcuffs could be warranted on specific occasions, such as transfers outside the prison (see Garriguenc v. France(dec.), no. 21148/02, 15 November 2007, and Paradysz v. France, no. 17020/05, § 95, 29 October 2009). However, the CPT’s reports, which fully confirm the applicant’s allegations on that point, show that he is indeed being handcuffed each time when taken out of his cell, even when taking his daily walk (see paragraphs 24 and 25 above). The Court takes note of the misgivings expressed by the prison authorities about the applicant’s conduct and of their assessment of the risk that he might pose (see paragraph 16 above). It is aware that those authorities need to exercise caution when dealing with individuals who have been convicted of violent offences, refuse to accept the fact of their imprisonment, and are consequently hostile towards prison staff and other inmates. However, it observes that the systematic use of handcuffs in respect of the applicant started about thirteen years ago, in December 1997, and apparently continues to this day. The authorities did not point to any specific incidents over that period in which the applicant has tried to flee or harm himself or others. For the Court, the matters to which the authorities refer do not necessarily show that there is a risk that such incidents might occur. It shares the CPT’s opinion that the routine handcuffing of a prisoner in a secure environment cannot be considered justified (see paragraph 25 above).

40. The Court concludes that the systematic handcuffing of the applicant when taken out of his cell was a measure which lacked sufficient justification and can thus be regarded as degrading treatment. There has therefore been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on that account.


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