ICCPR Case Digest

CCPR/C/129/D/2478/2014

Communication

2478/2014

Submission: 2014.10.25

View Adopted: 2020.07.23

Sergei Sotnik v. Russian Federation

Substantive Issues
  • Arbitrary detention
  • Effective remedy
Relevant Articles
  • Article 14.1
  • Article 9.1
  • Article 9.5
Full Text

Facts

The author of the communication is a national of the Russian Federation who claims that the State Party has violated his rights under articles 9 (5) and 14 (1) of the Covenant. 

The author submits that a criminal investigation was initiated against him on 28 November 2006, on charges of insulting and using violence against police officers in the course of their duties. Following the author’s diagnosis of acute paranoid schizophrenia at the order of the court, it was noted that the author could not be held criminally responsible for these actions although they were imputed to him. The criminal proceedings were thus terminated, and the author was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. 

On 1 August 2008, the case was returned to the prosecutor by the district court in order to join the two cases relating to his verbal and physical assaults in one set of proceedings. On 12 November 2008, the author was arrested by an investigating officer on the basis of his alleged failure to appear before an investigator, which was interpreted as a risk of flight. On 14 November 2008, the district court granted a request to hold the author in pretrial detention where he remained until 27 March 2009 in what the author submits as deplorable conditions. The author initially unsuccessfully appealed against this order, claiming that there was no evidence that he was trying to abscond, and that neither he nor his lawyer ever received a notice to appear. An appeal by the author on 26 March 2009 eventually resulted in the city court dismissing the decision of the district court and ordered the author’s release. He subsequently unsuccessfully tried to submit a claim for damages for unlawful detention, which was denied as the detention was recognized not to be unlawful but unwarranted. 

On the basis of the above, the author is of the view that the unlawful detention with no apparent reason was in violation of article 9(5) of the Covenant. Additionally, the author argues that his failure to obtain compensation for the unlawful detention is also in violation of his rights, and the absence of reasoned judgement regarding his claim for compensation amounted to a violation of his right to a fair trial.

Merits

The Committee initially recalled that while a defendant may be ultimately acquitted, at first instance or appeal, this does not render in and of itself, any preceding detention “unlawful”, the “unlawful” character of the detention may result from a violation of domestic law or violation of the Covenant itself. In the present case, the Committee noted that the national courts recognized that there was no evidence that the author had been properly notified and had failed to appear, and the court deciding upon pretrial detention did not consider whether the author would abscond and whether the detention in the circumstances was reasonable and necessary. In light of these circumstances, the Committee considered that the State party violated the author’s rights under article 9 (1) of the Covenant. 

The Committee also noted the State made it impossible for the author to exercise their right to an enforceable compensation, as the State conditioned this right on finding grounds of “rehabilitation” - a finding only made by criminal courts. In light of this finding, and considering the conclusion that the detention was indeed arbitrary, the Committee concluded that the State party violated the author’s right to an enforceable remedy, as protected by Article 9 (5) of the Covenant. 

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