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Universal-MigrationHRlaw-PG-no-6-Publications-PractitionersGuide-2014-eng

Universal-MigrationHRlaw-PG-no-6-Publications-PractitionersGuide-2014-eng

202 | PRACTITIONERS

202 | PRACTITIONERS GUIDE No. 6For example, detention of asylum seekers for two months in a prefabricatedbuilding with poor conditions of hygiene, restricted access tothe open air and no access to phones, was found in one case to violateArticle 3 ECHR, in particular given that the applicants suffered fromhealth and psychological problems following torture in their country oforigin. 760 The Inter-American Court equally ruled that “poor physicaland sanitary conditions existing in detention centers, as well as the lackof adequate lightning and ventilation, are per se violations to Article 5 ofthe American Convention, depending on their intensity, length of detentionand personal features of the inmate, since they can cause hardshipthat exceeds the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention,and because they involve humiliation and a feeling of inferiority.” 761Inadequate provision for migrants held at entry points can also leadto violations. In Riad and Idiab v. Belgium, for example, the EuropeanCourt found a violation of Article 3 ECHR where the applicants had beenheld for more than 10 days in an airport transit zone without any legalor social assistance, no means of subsistence, shelter, sleeping or washingfacilities and no means of communication with the outside world.Although there was a reception centre at the airport, the applicantswere not informed about it for some time. The Court found that thisfailure to ensure the essential needs of persons deprived of their libertyamounted to a violation of Article 3. 762The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has held thatcruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under Article5 ACHPR extends “to the widest possible protection against abuses,whether physical or mental, [. . .] referring to any act ranging from denialof contact with one’s family and refusing to inform the family ofwhere the individual is being held, to conditions of overcrowded prisonsand beatings and other forms of physical torture, such as deprivation oflight, insufficient food and lack of access to medicine or medical care”. 763b) OvercrowdingSevere overcrowding has regularly been determined by internationaltribunals to amount to a violation of freedom from cruel, inhuman ordegrading treatment. The European Court of Human Rights has found760 S.D. v. Greece, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 754, paras. 52–53.761 Montero-Aranguren et al (Detention Center of Catia) v. Venezuela, IACtHR, Series C No. 150,Judgment of 5 July 2006, para. 97; Vélez Loor v. Panama, IACtHR, op. cit., fn. 536, paras.215–216 (on access to water in detention).762 Riad and Idiab v. Belgium, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 757, paras. 103–106.763 IHRDA and Others v. Republic of Angola, ACommHPR, op. cit., fn. 395, para. 52; MediaRights Agenda v. Nigeria, ACommHPR, Communication No. 224/1998, 28 th Ordinary Session,23 October–6 November 2000, para. 71; Amnesty International and Others v. Sudan,ACommHPR, Communications Nos. 48/1990, 50/1991, 52/1991 and 89/1993, para. 54.

MIGRATION AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW | 203that less than three square metres of personal space per detainee is astrong indication that conditions are degrading so as to violate Article 3ECHR. 764 The Court has ruled, in the case of Aden Ahmed v. Malta, that,in “deciding whether or not there has been a violation of Article 3 onaccount of the lack of personal space, the Court has to have regard tothe following three elements:(a) each detainee must have an individual sleeping place in the cell;(b) each detainee must dispose of at least three square metres offloor space; and(c) the overall surface area of the cell must be such as to allow thedetainees to move freely between the furniture items.The absence of any of the above elements creates in itself a strongpresumption that the conditions of detention amounted to degradingtreatment and were in breach of Article 3.(d) Other aspects [. . .]”. 765Where overcrowding is less severe, it may nevertheless lead to violationsof freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment whenconsidered in conjunction with other conditions of detention, includingpoor ventilation or access to natural light or air, poor heating, inadequatefood, poor sanitation or lack of a minimum of privacy. 766 TheInter-American Court has also held that severe overcrowding amountsper se to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, contrary to the dignityinherent to human beings and, therefore, a violation to Article 5.2of the American Convention.” 767The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degradingtreatment or punishment has held that “one of the most frequentobstacles to the respect of the human dignity and to the prohibitionof torture and other forms of ill-treatment in places of detentionis overcrowding [and that] [t]his is particularly applicable in cases ofpre-trial detention and detention of children, asylum-seekers and refugees.”768764 Kantyrev v. Russia, ECtHR, Application No. 37213/02, Judgment of 21 June 2007, paras.50–51; Labzov v. Russia, ECtHR, Application No. 62208/00, Judgment of 16 June 2005,para. 44; Orchowski v. Poland, ECtHR, Application No. 17885/04, Judgment of 22 October2009, para. 122.765 Aden Ahmed v. Malta, ECtHR, Application No. 55352/12, Judgment of 23 July 2013, para. 87.766 Orchowski v. Poland, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 764, para. 122–123; Peers v. Greece, ECtHR, op. cit.,fn. 406, paras. 70–72; Belevitskiy v. Russia, ECtHR, Application No. 72967/01, Judgment of1 March 2007, paras. 73–79; Aden Ahmed v. Malta, ECtHR, op. cit., fn. 765, para. 88.767 Montero-Aranguren et al (Detention Center of Catia) v. Venezuela, IACtHR, op. cit., fn. 761,para. 91.768 Theo Van Boven, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Annual Report to the Commission onHuman Rights, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2004/56, 23 December 2003, para. 49.

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