Basic claim: Are prisons in Germany worthy of human dignity?

Federal Constitutional Court speaks inmate legal aid to
Karlsruhe( jur).If prisoners in a community cell have only four square meters of space, they must be granted legal aid for a liability and compensation claim. Because so far it is unclear whether this is considered decent, noted the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe in a decision published on Friday, July 1, 2016( Az.: 1 BvR 3359/14).The open and difficult question of the conditions under which inhumane housing is available can not be decided with the legal aid application but only in the main proceedings.

That was right for a prisoner who was detained in a Bavarian prison. 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 separate toilet from the rest of the cell.

Is the placement in a prison inhumane? Image: © Bibi - fotolia Is the placement in a prison inhumane? Image: © Bibi - fotolia

Four square meters of space per prisoner are inhumane, according to the inmate. The conditions of detention led to a loss of privacy and unreasonable burdens on the prisoners resulting from the forced close physical contact.

The state of Bavaria wanted to sue the man for official liability, so as to be able to receive compensation.

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However, the district court of Augsburg and the Higher Regional Court( OLG) Munich refused the legal aid requested for the procedure. According to the "necessary 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 compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. An additional minimum threshold would have German courts so far not clearly specified, so the Higher Regional Court.

Therefore, there can be no question that from the outset only four square meters of space create a compensationable violation of human dignity. The legal aid was therefore rejected because of lack of success.

By decision of 20 May 2016, the Federal Constitutional Court annulled the refusal of legal aid. Formally, the district court of Augsburg has to decide anew.

Although the granting of assistance may be made dependent on whether a claim has sufficient prospects of success. However, unresolved legal issues should not be relocated to the "only summary process of legal aid".These would have to be clarified in the main proceedings, so that legal aid in such a case can not be denied.

Whether an inhumane housing exists, always depends on the overall circumstances. How exactly this is examined, but according to the case law not clarified, so the Karlsruhe judge.

The European Court of Human Rights( ECtHR) allowed a floor space of four square meters of space per prisoner. Only when a detainee has space of less than three square meters can humiliation be assumed.

However, the Federal Court has already stressed that the requirements of the Basic Law on a decent housing can be higher. In some cases, these would be called control values ​​of six or seven square meters of floor space per prisoner. A constitutionally fixed Raummindestsoll could not exist. For example, the number of prisoners in a cell, the total floor area or even the confinement times are important.

Since there were inhumane conditions of detention there could only be decided in the main proceedings and not already in the upstream legal aid procedure. The rejection of legal aid had violated the complainant's right to equality of rights, the 3rd Chamber of the First Senate ruled.fle / mwo

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