The applicant, Mr. K., was serving his prison sentence in Daugavpils prison. The applicant alleged that all prisoners are unofficially divided into castes and where members of the higher caste can impose its own rules on the members of lower caste. The applicant complained that by placing him in one cell with prisoners accused of pedophilia the prison administration had marked him as belonging to a lower caste of prisoners. The applicant claimed that as a result he has been subjected to abuse from fellow inmates.
The applicant complained that lower courts had rejected his application and therefore failed to effectively address his allegations.
The Court reiterated that the state has an obligation to take all steps reasonably expected to prevent real and immediate risks to prisoners’ physical integrity, of which the authorities had or ought to have had knowledge. That obligation includes a duty to prevent the unofficial hierarchy of prisoners which is one of the causes of violence in detention places. The Court took account of numerous reports of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Punishment about inter-prisoner violence in several prisons, including Daugavpils prison.
Additionally the Court noted that the persons who might be more vulnerable than others must be specially protected. When examining cases of inter-prisoner violence and authorities’ response to such allegations, the courts are under a special duty to carry out independent investigation, because in such situations it may be difficult or even impossible for the prisoners to fully prove their allegations. The Court noted that before taking a decision on the merits of such complaints all the relevant direct and indirect facts, including reports of Ombudsman and relevant international organizations must be taken into. Therefore the Court quashed the refusal of lower court to hear the case.