ECtHR reaffirms disability rights

The European Court of Human Rights rendered on 15 April 2014 judgment in the case of Asalya v Turkey (43875/09) concerning the degrading detention conditions of Mr Asalya, who is paraplegic. The Court noted with regard to his disability that :

…the lack of effort to cater for his disability, the applicant experienced serious difficulties in meeting his most basic needs, such as using the toilet. The Court notes in this connection that the inaccessibility of the sanitation facilities raises a particular concern under Article 3 of the Convention, in particular as the applicant was dependent entirely on the good will of the police officers to assist him, on account of the structural deficiencies at the place of detention (51. para).

and on this basis stated that :

the detention of the applicant in conditions where he was denied some of the minimal necessities for a civilised life, such as sleeping on a bed and being able to use the toilet as often as required without having to rely on the help of strangers, was not compatible with his human dignity and exacerbated the mental anguish caused by the arbitrary nature of his detention … (para. 53).

The Court therefore found that Mr Asalya was subjected to degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR. The Court also found Turkey in violation of his right to liberty and security (article 5 (1, 4, and 5). It follows from this case that states have positive obligations to protect disability rights of individuals in detention. More specifically, “where authorities decide to place and keep a person with a disability in detention they should demonstrate special care in guaranteeing such conditions as correspond to the special needs resulting from his disability” (para. 50).

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