Facts: The case concerned Mr Savenkovas’ complaint about the conditions of his detention in Vilnius prisons until July 2003 and the censorship of his correspondence by the prison administration.
The Applicant, a person with previous convictions, was convicted in October 2000 of robbery, illegal possession of ammunition, assault and an attempt to abscond. He was sentenced to five years and ten months’ imprisonment and his property was confiscated. The Applicant appealed, claiming that the case against him had been fabricated and that the conviction was arbitrary, but his allegations were dismissed. The Applicant was not present at the appeal hearing but was represented by officially-appointed counsel. Furthermore, the Applicant lodged a cassation appeal, but in 2001 the Supreme Court dismissed this appeal in the presence of his lawyer.
In 2003 Mr Savenkovas’ sentence of imprisonment was upheld, but the order to confiscate his property was waived. On 30 July 2003 the Applicant was released after having completed the sentence. However, in the same year he was arrested and prosecuted on another charge. According to the information mentioned by the parties, the Applicant was remanded in custody pending trial.
Issue: The case was brought to the Court to decide whether there was a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention. The alleged violations of other Articles of the Convention and Protocol No. 1 were rejected by the Court as being manifestly ill-founded.
Holdings: Yes, there had been a violation of Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention.
Court’s Rationale: The Court held that the conditions in the prisons had failed to respect basic human dignity and must therefore have been prejudicial to his physical and mental state. Moreover, “the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of the Applicant’s detention at the Lukiškės Remand Prison amounted to degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention”.
Furthermore, the Court found that there had been a violation of Article 8. The Court notes that there was systematic censorship of the correspondence of prisoners at the material time, with the apparent exception of letters to State institutions and the Court. Moreover, incoming and outgoing correspondence suffered certain delays and prisoners could not retain their incoming mail. The Court concluded that the Government has not presented sufficient reasons to show that such an extensive control of the Applicant’s correspondence was necessary in a democratic society.