ECtHR clarified standard on minimum space for prisoners
The European Court of Human Rights (the ‘ECtHR’ or ‘the Court’) has excessive jurisprudence on prison conditions, especially regarding the minimum personal space of inmates. The case law culminated in the recent judgement of Muršić, which was decided last October by the Grand Chamber. In this decision the Court addressed the inconsistencies in its jurisprudence regarding the minimum acceptable space. In the Muršić decision the Court ruled that if the personal space goes below 3 square meters, there is a strong presumption of a violation of Article 3 and the judgement resolves important other contradictions also. It was not totally consistent in the recent practice of the Court whether the decisive space is 3 or 4 m2 or that the personal space below this amount is in itself a violation or not. The origin of the 3 m2 threshold was also not clear from the case law of the Court. In this essay I will review the Court’s pre-Muršić case law on minimum personal space and draw attention to the inconsistencies, then I summarize the findings of Muršić.