The European Court of Human Rights rules that a Russian human rights organisation could take the place of an applicant to the Court following his death

posted 26 Sep 2016, 06:57 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 26 Sep 2016, 06:58 ]
20 September 2016

Source: HRO.org

In its decision of 20 September 2016 the European Court of Human Rights emphasised that complaints to the ECtHR have a moral dimension, including for those representing the interests of victims. They may have an interest in ensuring that justice is delivered even after the applicant has died.

On 20 September the European Court of Human Rights recognised for the first time a Russian human rights organisation, Agora Interregional Association of Human Rights Organisations, as the applicant in place of the deceased victim it was representing.

The ECtHR found that the Russian authorities had violated Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms - by refusing proper medical care to convict Vladimir Kondrulin, who died of cancer in a Chelyabinsk penal colony - and Article 34 of the Convention - by obstructing his right of individual application to the Court.

61-year old Vladimir Kondrulin suffered from prostrate cancer and was diagnosed with metastases in the lymph nodes of the groin. The prison doctors noted that conditions in the prison system were inadequate for the provision of the medical treatment that he needed.

In accordance with a Russian Government decree Kondrulin was entitled to be released, but the Russian courts refused to grant his request for release.

In the summer of 2015 the European Court, to which Kondrulin had submitted a complaint, ruled that the Russian authorities must grant him emergency medical treatment. A month later, Kondrulin died in the prison tuberculosis hospital in Chelyabinsk region.

Ella Pamfilova, then Federal Ombudsperson for Human Rights, brought the situation regarding the inadequate treatment of seriously ill convicts to the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing Kondrulin’s case. Despite this, the Russian representative to the ECtHR, deputy justice minister Georgy Matyushkin, was quick to declare that Kondrulin’s complaint could not be subject to further consideration by the ECtHR, since he had no known living relatives. Matyushkin added that the Russian authorities had in any case fulfilled their obligations by providing medical assistance to the convict.

Agora Interregional Association of Human Rights Organisations (a partner of Zona Prava) appealed to the ECtHR with a request that it continue to examine Kondrulin’s case. No claim for damages was made owing to the applicant’s death and the absence of his having any known living relatives.

In its decision the ECtHR emphasised that complaints to the Court have a moral aspect, including for those representing the interests of victims. They may have an interest in ensuring that justice is delivered even after the applicant has died.

Agora’s lawyers Andrei Lepekhin and Sergei Petryakov had represented Kondrulin’s interests from the very beginning of the case, both in the domestic courts and at the ECtHR. In view of the exceptional circumstances of the case and the seriousness of the accusations levelled against the Russian authorities, the European Court ruled that Agora had legal standing to pursue Kondrulin’s application. If it ruled otherwise, it would run the risk that serious violations of the Convention would go un-examined and the respondent State could escape accountability.
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