Back

Reforms introduced after police failed to properly investigate a racist attack

Koky and Others v. Slovakia  | 2012

Reforms introduced after police failed to properly investigate a racist attack

Where an individual raises an arguable claim that he has been seriously ill-treated … there should be an effective official investigation capable of leading to the identification and punishment of those responsible.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, 12th June 2012

Background

One night in the village of Gánovce-Filice, a group of non-Roma residents forcibly entered three Roma houses. They beat the inhabitants with baseball bats and iron bars, whilst allegedly shouting racist slogans.

The victims identified a number of people who they said were responsible for the attack. However, the authorities refused to charge anyone with a crime.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The Strasbourg court found that the authorities had failed to properly investigate the incident or punish those responsible. The court said it was particularly important for attacks with racist overtones to be properly investigated.

Follow-up

In 2014 the offence of extremism was created, to make it easier for the authorities to prosecute racially-motivated crimes. Specialised police units were set up to deal with such crimes, and new regulations were introduced covering the actions of the authorities. 

Further legal changes in 2017 banned a wider range of extremist activities and made it easier for the authorities to prosecute violent racism. A specialised court and prosecution service took over responsibility for prosecuting such crimes.


Related examples

Man’s struggle leads to the legalisation of homosexuality in Ireland

David Norris suffered from anxiety attacks and depression after realising that any open expression of his homosexuality could lead to a criminal prosecution. The Strasbourg court ruled that the criminalisation of his sexuality breached his basic rights. In 1993, this led to the full legalisation of homosexual acts between consenting adults under Irish law.

Read more

Man persecuted for his sexuality wins landmark judgment – transforming the law in Northern Ireland and beyond

Since the age of 14, Jeffrey Dudgeon experienced fear, suffering, and psychological distress because his sexuality was regarded as a crime. His house was raided by police and he was interrogated for hours. In a test case, the European court ruled that law violated the right to private life. In 1982, Northern Ireland legalised homosexual relationships – followed by many other European countries.

Read more

Reform of gun laws after police shoot dead unarmed men

Two 21-year-olds absconded from military service and went to see their grandmother. When military police arrived, the men were unarmed and non-violent - and tried to run away. Nevertheless, they were shot dead. The Strasbourg court ruled that the military police had used grossly excessive force. This case, and others, led to changes in the rules on the authorities’ use of firearms.

Read more

Failure to investigate attack on Roma settlement leads to local reforms

All of the Roma inhabitants of a village had their houses burnt down by other locals. The authorities were warned, but refused to intervene. After the attack, the authorities did not investigate properly and the courts failed to give the victims a fair trial. Their application to Strasbourg led to compensation and local programmes to combat discrimination and exclusion.

Read more

Reinstatement of judge said to be the victim of political corruption

Oleksandr Volkov was dismissed from his role as a Supreme Court judge. His lawyer argued that he had been the victim of political corruption, which sought to undermine the independence of the Ukrainian judiciary. The Strasbourg court ruled that his dismissal had been filled with bias and manipulation, in breach of his basic rights. Mr Volkov was reinstated as a Supreme Court judge in 2015.

Read more

Justice for victims of child abuse

Whilst in their parents’ care, four children were exposed to terrible neglect and emotional abuse. The Strasbourg court found that the local authority had known about the abuse, and had the power to take steps to protect the children, but it had not done so for four-and-a-half years. The children were awarded damages which provided funds for future psychological care.

Read more

Legal standards changed after gay father was denied custody of his child

When João Salgueiro da Silva Mouta got divorced, the Court of Appeal granted his wife custody of their daughter. A decisive reason was the fact that Mr Salgueiro da Silva Mouta was gay. The Strasbourg court ruled that this had been discriminatory, and without proper justification – leading to a change in Portuguese court practices.

Read more

Justice after authorities failed to investigate allegations of police brutality

Aleksandr Mihhailov claimed that he had been violently beaten by police officers – both in a public place and after regaining consciousness in a police station. The Strasbourg court ruled that the subsequent investigation was not independent and suffered from serious flaws, such as a failure to collect relevant evidence. Reforms were carried out to make investigations more independent.

Read more

Stronger protections for detainees after police mistreat dental technician

Vladimir Kummer was a dental technician. One night he was allegedly found urinating in the street. Police officers put him in a cell, where he was shackled to a wall and allegedly beaten. The Strasbourg court ruled that Mr Kummer had been subjected to degrading treatment and that there had not been a proper investigation. The incident led to significant changes to avoid such treatment in future.

Read more

Reforms to prevent police brutality after violent assault on innocent man

Artur Mrozowski was on the train home from work when the police arrived in response to disruption caused by other passengers. Mr Mrozowski was sober, peaceful and calm but an officer beat him in the face with a truncheon, knocking out three of his teeth. An investigation found that the police had done nothing wrong, but the European court ruled in his favour. Following this and other cases,...

Read more

Suspicions of a biased judge lead to reforms to protect a fair legal system

DMD Group was involved in a valuable legal claim against other companies. A judge in charge of allocating cases arranged to hear the claim himself, then abruptly dismissed it. The DMD Group suspected the judge had deliberately arranged to reject their case. The European court said that the rules allowing the judge to control the case had been unfair – leading to reforms to the justice system.

Read more

Failure to investigate alleged police violence

After a row started in a bar in Štip, everyone present was taken into police custody. According to Pejrusan Jasar, once he was in a police cell he was severely beaten by a police officer. Mr Jasar lodged a criminal complaint but the public prosecutor took no steps to investigate. The European court ruled this had violated Mr Jasar’s basic rights – leading to a series of reforms.

Read more

Case highlights the need to protect the impartiality of judges

Mrs M had her legal dispute presided over by a judge who was closely related to two of the lawyers representing the other side. The Strasbourg court ruled that Mrs M’s fears of impartiality had been justified and her right to a fair trial had been breached.

Read more

Unfair trial leads to fairer criminal procedures

Two men were convicted of a robbery on the basis of evidence which had been manipulated by police. The Strasbourg court ruled that the defendants had an unfair trial. The law was changed to improve the identification of suspects and protect the right to a fair trial in Albania.

Read more

Better protections for peaceful demonstrations after protest was banned

An NGO organised a series of demonstrations in Warsaw, to highlight discrimination against women and minorities. The gatherings were banned, after the city’s mayor said that he was against them because they included support for homosexual rights. The Strasbourg court ruled that the ban violated the right to public assembly. This led to changes to Polish law to protect the right to protest.

Read more

Legal battle leads to stronger transgender rights

Miss B was registered as a man at birth. Later she adopted female behaviour, underwent feminising hormone therapy, and had genital surgery. However, the authorities refused to register her as a woman – causing her daily problems. The Strasbourg court ruled that her fundamental rights had been violated. French law was changed to properly recognise the identity of post-operative transgender.

Read more

Legal aid system introduced after woman suffering from domestic violence was unable to access the courts

Mrs Airey wanted to be legally separated from her husband, who was allegedly a violent alcoholic. However, there was no legal aid and she could not afford the lawyers’ fees. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the lack of legal aid effectively denied Mrs Airey access to a court, breaching her basic rights. Legal aid for such cases was introduced in Ireland in the following year.

Read more

An end to government control over the right to appeal to the Constitutional Tribunal

Mr Millan wanted to appeal his case to the Constitutional Tribunal. However, the law said that a government body could refuse permission – which it did. Whilst the case was in Strasbourg, the government settled the case – agreeing that people should be able to appeal without government permission.

Read more

Legal reforms to tackle delays in getting justice

Hundreds of applicants complained of excessively long proceedings in Turkish courts. One was Fatma Ormancı, whose claim that the government had failed to protect her husband from terrorism was undecided for almost 6 years. The Strasbourg court found that applicants in over 280 cases faced excessively long delays in Turkish legal proceedings – leading to substantial reforms.

Read more

Compensation for the widow of a victim of police ill-treatment

Vidadi Sultanov complained of a range of human rights violations, including ill-treatment in police custody. He died before his case could be decided upon, but his wife continued his application. The Azerbaijani government settled the case, agreeing to pay Mrs Sultanova 10,000 euros.

Read more