ECtHR defended claimant against forcible expulsion to China, threat of death penalty

On October 29, 2015 European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) upheld the legal appeal by the lawyers of ADC “Memorial” in the case of A.L. (X.W.) v. Russia (№ 44095/14).

The claimant, A.L., was detained by Saint Petersburg police in March 2014 for violating the rules of stay in the Russian Federation. During the procedure of identification it was discovered that A.L. is wanted by the Chinese law enforcement authorities as a criminal suspect charged with murder of a policeman and could be sentenced to death penalty if found guilty.

On April 18, 2014 Smolny district court of Saint Petersburg ruled to deport A.L. to China. As a result of the court ruling A.L. was first placed in detention centre for foreign nationals near Saint Petersburg and then transferred to police station of Krasnoselsky district of Saint Petersburg. Later the ruling of Smolny district court was appealed against and annulled by court of appeal because of multiple violations of legal procedures when preparing police report on detention, but the case has not ended.

After the Russian authorities dropped their plan to deport the claimant, his stay in the Russian Federation was ruled undesirable and he was requested to leave the territory of Russia within three days. After that ADC “Memorial” and lawyer Olga Tseitlina made a legal appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which was considered by the court on October 29, 2015. The court’s decision saved the claimant from forcible expulsion to China, where he would face arrest and, quite likely, would be sentenced to death.

This decision of ECtHR is of primary importance defense of the human right to life because it stressed the inadmissibility of death penalty in European legal system, which is of primary importance in case of Russia, where a public discussion of the need to return death penalty is currently under way.

ECtHR noted that in spite of the fact that Russian Federation has not formally adopted Protocol №6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, people could not be forcibly expelled from the country into other states, even outside of Europe, where they could face the threat of death penalty.

Besides that ECtHR stressed that the claimant had been held in solitary confinement for a period of several months in detention centre for foreign nationals in Krasnoye Selo, outside of Saint Petersburg. Referring to the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and European Prison Rules ( document adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2006) ECtHR stressed that solitary confinement should be accompanied by regular monitoring of physical and psychological state of the detainee, there should be particular and sound grounds for solitary confinement and overall professional estimation of a person’s physical and psychological ability for long-term solitary confinement should be carried out.

In the same judgment ECtHR also noted the conditions of detention of the claimant in the police station of Krasnoye Selo, where he had not been provided with food and water, as well as access to toilet, which was considered to be inhuman and degrading treatment. ECtHR judged that Russia violated the rights of the claimant guaranteed by Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to life and prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment). ECtHR ruled that the claimant is entitled to compensation of 5,000 euros as well as partial compensation of the cost of the court procedures.


Text of decision of ECtHR is availiable in english: CASE OF L.M. AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA