Poland violated Article 3 of the ECHR, which says that torture is prohibited, the European Court of Human Rights has decided. It is about the police intervention in Krakow in 2015 against two men. The judgment was announced by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, which issued an opinion on this matter. The Court awarded the applicants EUR 25,000 each.
European Court of Human Rights The (ECtHR) issued a judgment on Thursday about the beatings of two men by police officers during an intervention. The decision was announced by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, which during the proceedings (not being a party to the case) presented an amicus curiae opinion.
The HFPR statement stated that the ECtHR had found that in the case of Robert Kuchta and Sebastian Mętel v. Poland “there had been a violation of the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” referred to in Art. 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
“The incident took place in Krakow in 2015, when the police broke into one of the applicants’ apartment because they believed that a suspect was hiding there. According to the applicants, after opening the door, the officers sprayed tear gas (although there were five months child) and knocked the man to the ground and started beating “- described the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.
Shortly afterwards “the second applicant also arrived at the apartment and was also beaten by the officers”. According to reports, both men were arrested, but soon transported to the hospital due to their deteriorating health.
“The prosecutor’s office and the court found no grounds to initiate proceedings on the abuse of powers by police officers and decided to discontinue the proceedings,” they recalled.
Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the police action in Krakow
According to the HFPR report, the European Court of Human Rights recalled that Article 3 of the ECHR “does not prohibit the use of force to effect a lawful arrest, but it must be proportionate to the threat and it is for the authorities to prove that this was the case.”
The Court further noted – as described – “that the prosecutor in the decision to discontinue the proceedings had admitted that the applicants had suffered the injuries indicated in the expert reports by the police, but the preparatory proceedings had not explained how force had been used against the applicants and had not answered the question whether the use of force was absolutely necessary. ”
It was also mentioned that “the authorities did not explain whether the described injuries could have occurred after they had been transported to the police station, when the men were handcuffed (they claimed), or what their behavior might justify the use of force against them in this situation”.
On the basis of these findings, the European Court of Human Rights concluded that “the force used by the police officers against the applicants was excessive and disproportionate and caused suffering, which undoubtedly could be considered inhuman treatment”.
ECtHR: the authorities failed to conduct a fair investigation
The ECtHR also recalled that the prohibition of torture imposes an obligation on the state to conduct “an effective investigation that will explain all the circumstances and lead to the identification and punishment of persons responsible for violating the prohibition.” In the case in question, according to the Court, “the prosecutor initiated proceedings immediately after the applicants had submitted the notification, but is not convinced that they were sufficiently thorough and effective”.
During the proceedings, it was noticed that the proceedings against the police officers were conducted by the prosecutor’s office in the same area in which they served, i.e. Kraków-Nowa Huta. In addition, the request to transfer the case to the prosecutor’s office from another district was – as stated – dismissed.
“Therefore, the ECtHR took the position that the authorities had failed to conduct a fair investigation and had breached the prohibition of torture in procedural terms. Moreover, it argued that the authorities had only taken into account the testimonies of the police officers who participated in the intervention, disregarding the fact that they had an interest in the decision. of the case and the reduction of its liability “- informed the Foundation, which announced that the ECtHR had awarded each of the complainants the amount of EUR 25,000.
In its announcement, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights recalled a study on “the problem of aggression in the Police against persons from outside the Police, with whom an officer has contact in connection with the performance of official duties”, carried out for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration in 2015.
It was reported that the study showed that “as many as 45 percent of policemen admitted that they had participated in interventions where the actions of some officers could be perceived as a manifestation of unjustified aggression”, and “almost 13 percent of the respondents stated that such situations occurred in at least one fifth of the last 100 interventions. ”
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