Facts: The Applicant, Mr Juozas Valašinas, is a Lithuanian national. The case concerned the conditions of the Applicant’s detention in Pravieniškės prison and his treatment there.
The arguments of the Applicant concerned were as follows:
- General conditions of detention
- Specific acts by the prison administration:
- The body search of 7 May 1998
- Alleged victimization of the Applicant and the absence of review
- The control of correspondence with the Convention organs
Issue: The case was brought to the Court to decide whether there is a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of degrading treatment), Article 8 (right to respect for correspondence) and Article 34 (right of individual petition) of the Convention.
Holdings: Yes, there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of degrading treatment) and Article 8 (right to respect for correspondence) of the Convention.
No, there had been no breach of Article 34 (right of individual petition) of the Convention.
Court’s Rationale: The Court emphasized that under Article 3 of the Convention the State must ensure that a person is detained in conditions which are compatible with respect for his human dignity, that the manner and method of the execution of the measure do not subject him to distress or hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention and that, given the practical demands of imprisonment, his health and well-being are adequately secured. The Court found that the general conditions of detention in Pravieniškės prison did not breach Article 3 of the Convention.
As regards the body search of the applicant on 7 May 1998, the Court considered that, whilst strip searches may be necessary on occasions to ensure prison security or prevent disorder or crime, they must be conducted in an appropriate manner. In the Court’s opinion the way in which this particular search had been conducted showed a clear lack of respect for the Applicant, and in effect diminished his human dignity. The Court concluded that it had constituted degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention.
As regards the alleged victimisation of the Applicant, the Court found that the Applicant had not been victimised for the expression of his views or the exercise of his legitimate rights and freedoms. The Court considered that the disciplinary penalties imposed on the Applicant had not been arbitrary, had been subjected to a proper review by the prison administration and the Ombudsman, and had not amounted to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention.
The Court concluded that the control of the Applicant’s correspondence with the Convention organs constitutes a violation of Article 8 of the Convention. However, there had been no breach of Article 34 of the Convention – thus the Applicant’s right of petition was not infringed.
(hudoc.echr.coe.int – Press release 558/24.7.2001)
Just satisfaction: The Court awarded the Applicant 6,000 LTL for non-pecuniary damages and granted him 1,693.87 LTL for legal costs and expenses.