60 RAMONA MIHAELA COMAN
against Romania19 (the applicant was detained in the Jilava Penitentiary in a 47-square-
meter cell with 42 beds, along with 50-58 detainees, hence having an own space of
0.80-0.92 square meters), Todireasa v. Romania20 the applicant was held in five different
cells, ranging in size from 32 to 51 square meters, with 18 to 64 detainees).
In all these cases, the Court has shown that the detaining of a person inevitably
causes psychological suffering, but the state authorities have an obligation to
ensure conditions that respect human dignity and which do not exceed a certain
level of suffering, the focus of the analysis of the detention conditions being the
Apart from the problem of the insufficient space of the imprisoned, regarding
the observance of human dignity, it is necessary to analyze the proper conditions
in which detainees are held. This is because in all cases concerning Romania, which
alleged violation of Article 3 due to inhuman conditions, besides the problem of
overcrowding, other problems were indicated as: dirty space, insanitary, lack of
hygiene, cleanliness, lack of hot water, lack of windows ventilation and natural
light, poor quality food, inadequate thermal conditions (too hot or cold), lack of
body hygiene supplies, lack of medical treatments.
Unlike the O.N.U. covenant on Civil and Political Rights21 and the Inter-
American Convention on Human Rights22, which expressly provide for the detention
of a prisoner in a humane manner and with due regard for the dignity of the human
person, the European Convention on Human Rights does not provide for such a
provision. However, the European Court of Human Rights has received numerous
applications denouncing the conditions of detention, which are examined under
Article 3 of the Convention. What was thus analyzed was whether the imposition of
humiliating or suffering degrading detention conditions constitutes inhuman or
The analysis of ECHR case law in this matter concludes that states have a dual
obligation: on the one hand, not to impose on detainees detention conditions that
generate ill-treatment and, on the other hand, to ensure detention conditions in
accordance with human dignity24.
The Court underlined, in the resolution of the cases before it, that custodial
measures usually imply some inconvenience to the detainee, but that does not
mean that the prisoner has lost the rights guaranteed by the Convention. Moreover,
there are situations where the detainee, due to the vulnerability of his situation and
because he is in the care of the state, may need more protection from the
19 ECHR, Application no. 25763/03, Ruling of 26 May 2009.
20 ECHR, Application no. 35372/04, Ruling of 3 May 2011.
21 Article 10 par. 2.
22 Article 5 par. 2.
23 Corneliu Bîrsan, Convenia european a drepturilor, 2nd edition, Ed. C.H. Beck, Bucharest, 2010, pg. 157.
24 Jean Francois Rennuci, Tratat de drept european al drepturilor omului, translated in Romanian,
Hamangiu Printing Press, Bucharest 2009, pg. 131.