Basic action: Are prisons in Germany decent?

Basic action: Are prisons in Germany decent?

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Federal Constitutional Court awards prisoner legal aid
Karlsruhe (jur). If prisoners have only four square meters of space in a community cell, legal aid must be granted for a liability and compensation claim. So far, it has not been clarified whether this should be considered humane, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe stated in a decision published on Friday, July 1, 2016 (file number: 1 BvR 3359/14). The open and difficult question here, under what conditions there is inhumane accommodation, cannot be decided with the legal aid application, but only in the main proceedings.

This got a prisoner right who was imprisoned in a Bavarian correctional facility. The man had to share a 16 square meter cell with three other prisoners for 188 days. In addition to the furniture, the total area of ​​the cell also included a toilet that was structurally separated from the rest of the cell.

Four square meters of space per prisoner are inhumane, said the prisoner. The conditions of detention led to the loss of all privacy and undue stress to the prisoners resulting from the forced physical contact.

The man wanted to sue the Free State of Bavaria for official liability in order to receive compensation.

However, the Augsburg Regional Court and the Munich Higher Regional Court (OLG) refused the legal aid requested for the proceedings. According to the “overall view of the circumstances of the individual case”, there was no violation of human dignity. The European Court of Human Rights considered four square meters of space per person in a cell to be still compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. So far, German courts have not clearly specified a minimum limit, according to the OLG.

There can therefore be no question that from the outset only four square meters of space would constitute an infringement of human dignity, which is subject to compensation. Legal aid should therefore be rejected because of a lack of prospects of success.

With its decision of May 20, 2016, the Federal Constitutional Court overruled the rejection of legal aid. Formally, the Augsburg regional court must now make a new decision.

The granting of aid may be made dependent on whether a lawsuit has sufficient prospect of success. However, unresolved legal questions should not be shifted to the “only summary procedure for legal aid”. Rather, these would have to be clarified in the main proceedings, so that legal aid cannot be refused in such a case.

Whether there is inhumane accommodation depends on the overall circumstances. How exactly this is checked is not clarified according to the jurisprudence, according to the Karlsruhe judge.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) allows four square meters of space per prisoner. Only when a prisoner has less than three square meters of space can one expect diminishing detention conditions.

However, the Federal Court of Justice has already emphasized that the requirements of the Basic Law for decent accommodation can be higher. In some cases, standard values ​​of six or seven square meters of floor space per prisoner were mentioned. There could not be a constitutional fixed minimum room. For example, it depends on the number of prisoners in a cell, the total floor area or the time of confinement.

Oh there were inhumane conditions of detention here, so it can only be decided in the main and not in the upstream legal aid process. The third chamber of the First Senate ruled that the applicant's right to equal legal protection had been violated by refusing legal aid. fle / mwo

Author and source information

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