EGMR: Forthcoming Grand Chamber judgment concerning Moldovan national’s arrest and detention in Transdniestria

The European Court of Human Rights will be delivering a Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Mozer v. the Republic of Moldova and Russia (application no. 11138/10) at a public hearing on 23 February 2016 at 4.30 p.m. in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg. The case concerns in particular the issues of jurisdiction of Moldovan and Russian governments in relation to a number of alleged violations of the applicant’s rights by the „Moldovan Republic of Transdniestria“ („MRT“), an entity not recognised under international law as a State, as well as the lawfulness of detention orders issued by the courts of that entity.

Principal facts and complaints

The applicant, Boris Mozer, is a Moldovan national who was born in 1978. He is currently an asylum seeker in Switzerland. In November 2008 Mr Mozer was arrested by the authorities of the self-proclaimed “Moldovan Republic of Transdniestria” (the “MRT”) on suspicion of defrauding the company for which he was working and he was placed in custody. He submits that he was detained in unhealthy conditions, in particular because of high humidity, lack of access to natural light and to ventilation, overcrowding and heavy smoking in his cell. Having had a bronchial asthma condition since childhood, Mr Mozer suffered several suffocation fits in detention.

In May 2009 doctors found that Mr Mozer would have to be transferred to the respiratory department of a hospital, but that this would be impossible to arrange due to a lack of personnel to guard him during his stay there. His mother subsequently asked the “MRT Ministry of Interior” for her son’s transfer to a specialised hospital, as bronchial asthma was one of the reasons listed by this Ministry as a reason for a transfer to hospital. However, the request was refused on the ground that only convicted prisoners could be transferred to a hospital for that reason.

Mr Mozer’s parents made several complaints to the Moldovan authorities and the Russian Embassy in Moldova concerning their son’s condition. On 3 November 2009 the Moldovan Prosecutor General’s Office informed them that it could not intervene due to the political situation in the Transdniestrian region created since 1992 . It also referred to Moldova’s reservation in respect of its inability to ensure observance of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Eastern regions of Moldova. A complaint to the Russian Embassy in Moldova was forwarded to the “MRT prosecutor’s office”. That office replied that Mr Mozer’s case was pending before the “MRT courts”, which alone were competent to deal with any complaints.

In February 2010, a medical board concluded that Mr Mozer’s life expectancy was not favourable and that his continued pre-trial detention appeared difficult due to the lack of staff and equipment necessary for the treatment required by his condition. Despite these findings Mr Mozer was transferred to another pre-trial detention centre, which was less equipped than the facility where he had been staying since May 2009.

Several decisions extending Mr Mozer’s detention were adopted between November 2008 and October 2009. He remained in custody until 1 July 2010 when the “Tiraspol People’s Court” convicted and sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years. He subsequently fled to Moldova and eventually entered Switzerland where he applied for asylum.

Mr Mozer complains in particular that he was arrested and detained unlawfully by the “MRT authorities”, in violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security). Relying on Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), he further maintains that he was not given the medical assistance required by his condition and that he was held in inhuman conditions of detention. Moreover, he complains that he was prevented from seeing his parents and his pastor, in breach of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion). He finally complains, in particular, that he did not have an effective remedy in respect of his complaints under articles 2, 3, 5, 8 and 9. Mr Mozer maintains that his complaints fall within the jurisdiction of both Moldova and Russia.

Procedure

The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 24 February 2010. On 20 May 2014 the Chamber to which the case had been allocated relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber. A Grand Chamber hearing was held on 4 February 2015.

Press release ECHR 62 (2016) 17/02/2016

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