Seven years ago the Constitutional Court ruled that prisoners have an equal right for health protection like anybody else since it is their fundamental right. A convicted murderer complained about cigarette smoke from his other prisoners and demanded a compensation from the state. Through the refusal to deal with the case, the lower courts affected his fundamental right granted by the Czech Constitution. Health is considered as part of personality rights. The human being is protected from infringement of health, life, dignity, honour, privacy, image, photography, environment, personal data. The inviolability of the personality is constitutionally protected as well in the New Civil Code. In contrary to common law, there is no specific claims or torts for each infringement, it is simple one claim – for violation of personality and one has to state what aspect of personality was infringed.
The lower court – Municipal Court in Prague ruled after seven years since it was ordered by the Constitutional Court in favour of the Claimant – convicted murdered Mr. Žirovnický, who is serving 14 years from his 16year imprisonment. He was awarded damages in amount of 200.000 CZK (6.000 GBP), however no apology or further required damages for immaterial harm.
Prisoner Albert Žirovnický claimed he had involuntarily smelled cigarette smoke claiming that in prisons prisoners and even staff routinely smoke in the cells, corridors and in the common rooms. He than went further that the Prison Service has to follow the anti-smoking law from 2005 respect in jail as well. The Court agreed with him and ordered that there has to ban of smoking outside the designated smoking areas and that this contributes to the deterioration of the health of prisoners who are non-smokers. According to the Prison Service the situation is improving and if the prisoner requires non-smoking cell, they are trying to meet his requirements.
The Court decision will have profound consequences for the Czech prison system and further claims are expected.