Stronger protections for detainees after police mistreat dental technician

Kummer v. the Czech Republic  | 2014

Stronger protections for detainees after police mistreat dental technician

 the shackling and stretching of the applicant must have caused him considerable pain

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, 25th July 2013 - © Photo Blesk


Vladimir Kummer was a dental technician. One night in May 2010 he was walking home from a bar when he was stopped by police – allegedly for urinating in the street. The police asked for Mr Kummer’s identity card, which he said he could give them if they accompanied him to his house, which was 50 metres away.

Instead, Mr Kummer was taken to the local police station. He claimed that he was put in a cell, shackled, and punched in the back of the head and in the face. He was then left hanging from his outstretched arms, which were shackled to different walls. After 30 minutes in this agonising position, he was told to go home. As a result of his injuries, Mr Kummer was unable to work for 16 days. 

A criminal investigation concluded that the police officers involved had not done anything wrong. A later report by the Ombudsman found that a police officer had committed a disciplinary offencebut there was no finding that Mr Kummer had been physically ill-treated.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

Given the evidence before it, the European court could not rule on whether Mr Kummer had been beaten. However, due to the painful and unnecessary way in which he had been left hanging by his arms in the cell, the court concluded that he had been subjected to degrading treatment.

The court also found that the investigation into the incident had suffered from unnecessary delays and had not been properly independent. In the circumstances, Mr Kummer’s right to an effective investigation had also been breached.


Following this and another case, a series of reforms took place to ensure there are effective investigations into allegations of police ill-treatment.

In 2012 the independent General Inspection of the Security Forces (GISF) was set up to investigate crimes allegedly committed by police officers.

In 2013 the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic changed its case law. The courts must now consider in more detail whether allegations have been effectively investigated.

The European court judgment in Mr Rimmer’s case was translated into Czech and sent to the heads of the relevant public institutions. This and other international human rights standards on the treatment of detainees were included in police training sessions. The Police President ordered an inspection of all police cells in the Czech Republic to ensure that there were no iron rings installed in them.

In 2015 the Police President changed a binding instruction to police officers to specify that shackling a person to a fixed object should only be done if needed to prevent dangerous conduct. The use of such restrictions in cells is now only allowed in exceptional circumstances.  

Related examples

Reforms made following the inhuman treatment of a four-year-old girl

When she was four years old, Tabitha Mitunga was detained by the Belgian authorities for almost two months – without family, friends, or anybody assigned to look after her. She suffered psychological damage and the Strasbourg court ruled that her rights had been violated. Her case highlighted the need for better protections for unaccompanied children in Belgium and led to substantial reforms.

Read more

Failure to investigate alleged brutality against man trying to help the police

Cvetan Trajkoski tried to report a dangerous situation to the police. He was then allegedly beaten by a group of officers – apparently because he had parked his car in the wrong place. The European court ruled that the authorities had failed to properly investigate the alleged attack. This and other cases led to reforms to ensure proper investigations of alleged police brutality.

Read more

Young woman saved from being stoned to death in Iran

Aged 24, Hoda Jabari was suspected of adultery in Iran. The crime could be punished by stoning to death. Ms Jabari fled to Istanbul. However, the Turkish authorities decided to send her back. The European court prevented her from being returned to face a possible stoning. Ms Jabari was allowed to stay in Turkey and eventually leave to seek a new life Canada.

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

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

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

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

Reforms introduced after police failed to properly investigate a racist attack

One night in the village of Gánovce-Filice, Roma villagers were beaten with baseball bats and iron bars by other locals. The Strasbourg court ruled that the authorities failed to properly investigate, or punish those responsible. The case was re-opened and legal changes were made to help the authorities’ tackle racist crimes.

Read more

New rules on detention after man subjected to inhuman prison conditions

After committing an administrative offence, Arnis Kadiķis was kept with four other detainees in a cell measuring only 6m2, with no window, bed or opportunity to leave for 15 days. The Strasbourg court ruled that these conditions amounted to degrading treatment. After the imprisonment, substantial reforms were made to conditions in Latvian prisons.

Read more

Torture of man in custody influences reforms to end police abuse of detainees

Olsi Kaçiu was tortured by police and forced to give a statement which was later used to convict him. The Strasbourg court found that his torture and unfair trial had violated Mr Kaçiu’s basic rights. As a result of this case and others, a range of reforms were introduced to prevent the ill-treatment of detainees and the use of evidence obtained through ill-treatment.

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