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Eduardo Alexander Antonio Mathew (born 1973) is a Dutch national now in administrative detention in the Buffalo Federal Detention Center, Batavia, New York facing deportation from the United States. In 2004 and 2005, Mathew campaigned against alleged racism that was directed towards black inmates in the Caribbean island of Aruba (off the coast of Venezuela), which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In 2006 and 2007, Mathew campaigned "To Abolish The Nazi Policies Against Immigrants In The U.S." and offered a $25,000 USD reward for anyone who could deliver evidence leading to the arrest of those responsible for the injustice for which he had been detained.

On September 29, 2005, Mathew won a judgment in his favor in the European Court of Human Rights.

Court Opinion

The following facts are taken from the Chamber Judgment or Opinion of the European Court of Human Rights

On October 9, 2001, Mathew was arrested on Aruba on a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm. From October 2001 until the end of April 2004, he was detained on remand in the Aruba Correctional Institution (Korrektie Inrichting Aruba), (KIA). During most of that time, he was in solitary confinement.

On November 29, 2001, an incident took place in which the acting KIA governor (equivalent to a warden) was very seriously injured (broken eye socket, cheekbone and skull), and for which the applicant (Mathew) was subsequently convicted of inflicting serious bodily harm.

Following the incident, Mathew was placed in solitary confinement for 35 days. Thereafter, on January 4, 2002, a special detention regime was imposed on him, aimed at keeping him away from the other prisoners. He was not allowed to leave his cell without being handcuffed and shackled, (the use of shackles was discontinued after a certain time). Contact with the outside world was also limited. On two other occasions after Mathew had, among other things, assaulted prison staff, he was also denied visits or use of the telephone for 28 days.

From the time when Mathew was first detained there until some time between August and October 2002, there was a large opening in the roof of his cell through which the rain penetrated. The cell was located on the top floor of the KIA prison building, and exposed Mathew to the heat of the sun. Iced water was provided, however, there was no air conditioner or other cooling system. There were also no lifts.

From June 2002, Mathew was found to be suffering from a serious spinal condition. Aruba’s only neurosurgeon found that the applicant had a lumbar discal hernia and considered surgery to be appropriate. He asked for the applicant to be examined by another neurosurgeon for a second opinion, which did not happen. The applicant was provided with a wheelchair on August 14, 2002, but permission to use it was withdrawn following an incident on 13 February 2003, when he ripped a piece of metal off his wheelchair and used it as a weapon against prison staff.

On February 19, 2003, Mathew began court proceedings, requesting more comfortable detention conditions. Among other things, he complained that his cell was unsanitary and that he was made to walk down two flights of stairs to meet visitors, take outside exercise or go to hospital, and that he was denied physiotherapy and a wheelchair. A local court ordered the prison to review the need for continuing the special regime at regular intervals.

On April 14, 2003, Mathew was found guilty as charged on appeal by the Joint Court of Justice for the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, which stated that it had imposed a considerably lower sentence (three years and six months instead of five years) than would normally be justified by the applicant’s crimes, in view of the unusual severity of the regime imposed on him while on remand.

Mathew received physiotherapy in hospital from 23 May until 13 June 2003. It was intended he should continue to receive physiotherapy as an outpatient. However, his physiotherapy sessions were discontinued. The applicant maintained that his physical condition prevented him from walking from his cell to the vehicle which was to take him to hospital and from sitting up straight in the vehicle.

Mathew would normally have been eligible for early release on 27 January 2004. This, however, was refused him on grounds related to his behaviour in prison.

A physiotherapist who examined Mathew on 6 March 2004 described him as able, despite going nine months without treatment, to walk a distance of at least 90 meters and carry out complex physical actions, such as twisting his body and walking up or down stairs.

Mathew was released by order of the Minister of Justice of Aruba on April 30, 2004 (by which time his application before the European Court of Human Rights had been communicated to the Netherlands Government).

The Court considered photographs and assessed the facts in detail in its Chamber judgment.

On September 29, 2005, the Court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, in that:

  • the applicant was detained in solitary confinement for an excessive and unnecessarily protracted period;
  • he was detained for at least seven months in a cell which failed to provide adequate protection against the weather and the climate; and,
  • he had had to endure unnecessary and avoidable physical suffering in order to gain access to outdoor exercise and fresh air.

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, the Court awarded the applicant 10,000 euros (EUR) for non-pecuniary damage and EUR 3,000 for costs and expenses

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