Torture and Ill-treatment

  • Torture is banned under the European Convention on Human Rights. Inhuman or degrading treatment of people is also not allowed.
  • The European Court of Human Rights has highlighted the torture of innocent civilians, unlawful police shootings and inhuman conditions of detention.
  • Judgments from the European court have led states to introduce proper rules and systems of accountability which prevent torture and ill-treatment.

 

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.

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Justice for mentally handicapped sixteen-year old subjected to sexual abuse

Mentally handicapped Miss Y. was subjected to sexual abuse the night after her sixteenth birthday. Y.’s father tried to bring a criminal prosecution against the attacker, but Dutch law stated that only the victim could start such a prosecution. Y.’s condition meant she was incapable of doing this, so her attacker was not brought to justice. The European court ruled that this violated her basic...

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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.

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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.

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Human trafficking criminalised after 14-year-old girl kept in domestic servitude in Paris

From the age of 14, Henriette Akofa Siliadin was kept in domestic servitude. She worked all day, 7 days a week for over 4 years, for no pay. The people responsible could not be properly brought to justice, because French law had not criminalised their actions. The case helped bring about legal reforms to combat human trafficking.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Case of nine men beaten by police helps strengthen protections against abuse

Nine men originally from northern Cyprus came to work in the south.They were taken into custody by Cypriot police, beaten, and expelled from the country. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that they had been subjected to inhuman treatment. Along with another earlier case, this judgment led to reforms to protect detainees from police abuse.

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Failure to investigate allegations of police ill-treatment

Market trader Ágoston Kmetty was allegedly beaten for 3 hours by officers in a police station. However, no charges were brought against any officers. The Strasbourg court held that the prosecutor had never properly investigated – refusing even to question the officers allegedly involved. Subsequent changes improved the remedies available to victims to ensure that crimes are properly investigated.

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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.

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