Case Paluch v. Poland and Świderski v. Poland

Importance Nature Application Number Case language State Date (dd/mm/yyyy)
3 Judgement 57292/12 and 5532/10 English Poland 16/02/2016

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Paluch v. Poland - no. 57292/12

Świderski v. Poland - no. 5532/10

Article 3

High security measures : violation

The applicants complained under Article 3 about the special high-security regime to which they had been subjected following their classification as dangerous detainees – on different legal basis. Namely they complained about their solitary confinement, their isolation from their families, the outside world and other detainees, their shackling whenever they were taken out of their cells, the routine daily strip searches and constant monitoring of their cells and sanitary facilities via closed-circuit television (see Piechowicz v. Poland, §§166 et s.).

The authorities justified their decision to subject M. Paluch to this regime arguing that their activities in prison had put the prison’s security at risk, on account “of his alleged participation in a planned collective protest in prison” (§41 – many prisoners, including the applicant, refused to eat their breakfast). The Court declared itself “not convinced” that for the sake of ensuring prison security the applicant should have been “indiscriminately subjected to the full range of measures that were available” to the Government under the dangerous detainee regime (§41) for a period of nine months. The Court further observed that “in extending the regime in respect of the applicant the commission gave no new reasons for its decisions, referring the reasons originally given in previous decisions” (§46). Therefore, the Court concluded that “the authorities failed to sufficiently justify the extension of the regime and that the procedure for review of the […] dangerous detainee status was a pure formality” (§46). As a result the Court found that there had been a violation of Article 3.

As regards M. Świderski, he was classified as a ‘dangerous detainee’ because of the gravity of the crime he had been convicted for. The Court acknowledged that “it was not […] unreasonable on the part of the authorities to consider that, for the sake on ensuring prison security” to subject the applicant to tighter security controls (§57). However, the Court observed that these measures were routinely used without any assessment of their necessity, and that the regime lasted more than four years. What’s more the circumstance relied on by the authorities could “justify the imposition of the regime […] for a certain time” and could not “suffice as the sole justification for extending the regime of such a long period” of four years (§62). The Court therefore added that “the procedure for review of the applicant’s dangerous detainee status became a pure formality” (§62). As a result of the foregoing, the Court found there had been a violation of Article 3.