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Panoramic photo of the building headquarters of the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, France.
© Consiglio d'Europa

European Court of Human Rights: by failing to pay compensation to people infected by transfusions of contaminated blood Italy violated right to life under ECHR

On 14th January 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) condemned Italy for the violation of several provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to non-payment of compensation to people infected by transfusions of contaminated blood (D.A. and others v. Italy).

Many Italian citizens, infected by AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C after transfusions of contaminated blood, had brought their cases before a national courts in order to obtain compensation for the damage they had suffered. In 2007, due to the high number of complaints, the Italian Government adopted a specific law to provide them with compensations, by way of friendly settlements.

Several years after the presentation of the cases, the applicants turned to the ECtHR and alleged a breach of the right to life, procedural limb (Art. 2 ECHR), the right to a fair trial (Art. 6 ECHR), right to an effective remedy (Art. 13 ECHR), and the right of peaceful enjoyment of private property (Art. 1 Protocol I ECHR). In particular, the applicants complained about the length of the proceedings for compensation or friendly settlement of their cases, and alleged that no effective remedy had been available in respect of their complaints.

As for the merit of the complaints in relation to the alleged violation of Art. 2 ECHR (right to life), grounded on the applicants’ submissions concerning the excessive duration of national proceedings, the Strasbourg Court held that the procedures put in place by the Italian Government to provide compensation lasted an unreasonable amount of time and failed to offer a rapid and appropriate response. The Court therefore concluded that there has been a violation of the procedural limb of Art. 2 ECHR.

The European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy to pay compensations to the applicants (in addition to reparations for moral damages and legal expenditures), within 3 months from the moment in which the judgment will become final.

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