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Reforms to prevent police brutality after violent assault on innocent man

Mrozowski v. Poland  | 2009

Reforms to prevent police brutality after violent assault on innocent man

…the court can only conclude that the applicant was violently assaulted by the police officers without any justification, and contrary to the domestic law, causing him serious injury.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, May 2009

Background

Artur Mrozowski was on the train home from work. Police officers entered his carriage, responding to some disruptive behavior from football hooligans.

Mr Mrozowski was peaceful, calm and sober; he was not with the football supporters. Nevertheless, a police officer repeatedly beat him in the face with a truncheon, before he was laid out on the platform. The attack knocked out three of Mr Mrozowski’s teeth and cut open his face. He spent the night in hospital, suffering from nausea.

The police then pressed charges against Mr Mrozowski , falsely claiming that he had been one of the violent hooligans. The Polish courts acquitted him, because he had been sober and peaceful all along.

An investigation found that the police officers had done nothing wrong.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court ruled that Mr Mrozowski had been violently assaulted by police officers, without any justification. Furthermore, the investigation into the officers’ actions had not been independent and was woefully inadequate.

Follow-up

Criminal proceedings were brought against the police officer who had carried out the attack. He was found guilty and sentenced in July 2012.

The European court’s judgment was one of a series involving police brutality in Poland. Following these cases, comprehensive reforms were carried out to help prevent and properly investigate such incidents. These included changes to the law, education and training of police officers, and a new institution to monitor and prevent police misconduct.

In particular, a new law came into effect on the use of force by police in 2013. This took into account the case law of the European court, saying that the police’s use of force must be proportionate, as limited as possible and only when genuinely necessary.


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