Police violence against a woman in the dock of Strasbourg
Shevtsova v. Russia 3/10/2017 (no. 36620/07)
Degrading treatment of a woman by police officers, even without having committed any criminal offense. No investigation of the case. The applicant was attacked by police officers who went to her sister’s home while she was searching for the son of her sister. The Court condemned Russia for degrading treatment.
The applicant, Lyubov Shevtsova, is a Russian national who was born in 1961 and lives in Nizhniy Novgorod (Russia). The case concerned alleged ill-treatment sustained by Ms Shevtsova during a dispute with two police officers.
According to Ms Shevtsova, on 6 November 2001 two police officers in plain clothes came to her sister’s house in search of the latter’s son (O.), who was suspected of having committed an offence.
As her sister was intoxicated, Ms Shevtsova informed the police officers that O. was absent. The police officers drew up a summons for O. to appear at the police station and handed it over to Ms Shevtsova. She alleges that, after having accepted the summons, she asked the police officers to leave the premises. They allegedly insulted her and grabbed her hand so that she would fall down the entry steps. F., the companion of Ms Shevtsova’s sister, intervened with the police officers, who pushed him to the ground and struck him; they then handcuffed him and took him to the police station. They did not arrest Ms Shevtsova.
According to the Government, Ms Shevtsova behaved in an aggressive manner towards the police officers and insulted them; she allegedly tore up the summons and threw it in the face of one of the police officers, who asked her to accompany them to the police station in order to file a report for abusive behaviour towards a person exercising public authority.
After the incident, Ms Shevtsova went to the traumatology unit for the Avtozavodskiy district of Nizhniy Novgorod, where she was given a medical certificate recording bruising to the soft tissues of the right eyebrow. On 9 November 2001 the forensic doctor at the Nizhny Novgorod regional forensic medical office also noted the bruising in question, as well as other scratches and hematoma on various parts of the applicant’s body.
Ms Shevtsova submitted a written complaint to the prosecutor on 8 November 2001, complaining of the ill-treatment inflicted on her by the two police officers. Between 2001 and 2009 the investigating authorities issued several decisions refusing to open a criminal investigation. Ms Shevtsova’s appeals to the Avtozavodskiy district court of Nizhniy Novgorod and the Nizhniy Novgorod Regional Court were dismissed in February and April 2010 respectively. Ms Shevtsova was not prosecuted for abusive behaviour towards a person exercising public authority.
Relying in particular on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Ms Shevtsova alleged that she had been subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment by the police and that she had not had an effective remedy in respect of that complaint.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 3 (investigation)
Violation of Article 3 (treatment)
Just satisfaction: EUR 19,500 (non-pecuniary damage)(echrcaselaw.com editing).