IJ №2 (34) 2020
Conditions of detention: a new Russian remedy and the practice in European countries. Decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Shmelev and Others v. Russia

The full text of the article is available only in Russian.


On 17 March 2020 the European Court of Human Rights delivered a decision on admissibility of the complaint in the case of Shmelev and Others v. Russia, in which the Court provided an assessment of a new national remedy, available for the protection from inhuman and degrading conditions of detention. This new mechanism was introduced by a federal law in January of 2020 and provides for a possibility to apply for a compensation for poor conditions of detention. Although the Russian courts have not had enough time to establish case-law on the remedy application, the European Court of Human Rights recognized the need to exhaust this remedy before lodging an application with the Strasbourg Court. According to the amendments to the legal regulation, a compensation may be demanded by persons in pre-trial detention and by persons sentenced to imprisonment by court decision. The article focuses on the provisions of the new law and on the following unresolved issues: those who can recur to the new mechanism, the process of admission and examination of the applications, and the amount of compensation. As the authors emphasize, these issues may and should be clarified and interpreted by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in its ruling. However, before this happens, the procedural strategies of the potential applicants are uncertain. According to the authors’ opinion, the assessment of the effectiveness of the new remedy is still to be given by the ECtHR and for the moment the applicants are only able to test it empirically in domestic courts. The authors of this paper explore the ECtHR’s main conclusions in the Shmelev case and make a prediction about further assessment of the new measure by the European Court and the Committee of Ministers. In the second part of the research, an overview of remedies, taken by several European countries in order to address a structural problem of inhuman or degrading conditions of detention, is presented. It is stated, that only a functioning symbiosis of preventive and compensatory measures is considered to be an effective domestic remedy for protection from the abovementioned infringement by the institutions of the Council of Europe. At the same time, the adoption of such measures poses a certain risk for the national legal systems.

About the authors:
Maria Filatova – Ph.D in Law, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Aleksandra Butko – Associate Researcher of the Scientific Laboratory of International Justice, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

Citation: Filatova M., Butko A. (2020) Usloviya soderzhaniya pod strazhey: novyy rossiyskiy mekhanizm zashchity i praktika evropeyskikh stran. Reshenie Evropeyskogo Suda po pravam cheloveka po delu Shmelev i drugie protiv Rossii [Conditions of detention: a new Russian remedy and the practice in European countries. Decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Shmelev and Others v. Russia]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol.10, no.2, pp.27–46. (In Russian).


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