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Eminov v the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (friendly settlement, 2017)

15 June 2017

The case concerns the death in custody of a young man of Roma origin in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

The man was arrested and admitted to Gevgelija prison at the end of July 2010. Since he suffered from a methadone addiction, he was medically examined at Gevgelija hospital and prescribed methadone therapy before admission to the prison. Two days later, a guard found him sleeping and breathing heavily in his cell. By the time an ambulance arrived and took him to Gevgelija hospital, the man-his forehead bruised and lacerated, his condition deteriorating-was in a comatose state. By the time he was transferred to Skopje hospital, he had died.

A post mortem examination revealed that the man's death was caused by lung inflammation aggravated by high levels of methadone in his system, suggesting that he had consumed an amount of the drug far in excess of the daily dosage prescribed to him by doctors at Gevgelija hospital. Since guards had only given him one dose of methadone during his stay at the prison and returned the remaining doses to the hospital after his death, the man appears to have acquired additional methadone on his own during his incarceration.

The applicant, who is the man's father, pursued both criminal and civil action against the prison in Macedonian courts; his complaints were rejected in all cases. 

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), in its 2012 report on FYROM, declared that there remained outstanding legal issues regarding the death and recommended that the Macedonian government establish clearly delineated practices for investigating future deaths in custody.

The ERRC represented the father (and, after his death, the brother of the man who died) in an application to the European Court of Human Rights. The applicant complained of a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the protection of everyone's right to life. His claim is that the State failed both to ensure that his son consumed only the methadone that was prescribed to him and to diagnose and treat the young man's pneumonia properly during the medical examination that preceded his admission to Gevgelija prison. Additionally, the applicant alleges that the State failed to investigate his son's death properly and that, in violation of Article 13 of the Convention, it also failed to provide an effective remedy for his complaints regarding the violation of Article 2.

The application to the European Court was lodged on 14 April 2014, and the Court communicated the case to the Macedonian government on 6 July 2015. On 23 May 2017, the European Court of Human Rights approved a friendly settlement in the case. 

  • The Court’s statement of facts in the case is available here.
  • An anonymised version of some of the sections (facts and legal arguments) of the application to the European Court can be found here.
  • The applicant’s observations on the government’s observations can be found here, and the applicant’s just satisfaction claim can be found here.
  • The European Court’s decision confirming the friendly settlement can be found here.

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