Police violence and ineffective investigation violate Article 3 of the ECHR
Ksenz and others v. Russia 12.12.2017 (no. 45044/06, 18796/08, 49158/09, 63839/09, 34455/10 and 36295/10)
Bad phraseology against police and violation of the high way code. Kicking and hitting the wall on behalf of the police. An ineffective investigation of the applicants’ allegations and the arrest of some of them for criminal offenses. Infringement for inhuman or degrading treatment.
Article 5 § 1
The case concerned six Russian nationals and their allegation that they had been ill-treated after being stopped and detained by the police for either using foul language or violating traffic regulations. The applicants are: Aleksandr Ksenz, Ruslan Lebedev, Vadim Korolev, Sergey Ivanov (now deceased), Vladimir Kolistratov, and Gennadiy Sergeyev. They were born in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1969, 1989, and 1971 respectively and live/d in Pskov, Novyy Toryal in the Mariy-El Republic, Diveyevo in the Nizhniy Novgorod Region, Cheboksary, Novocheboksarsk, and Moscow respectively (all in Russia).
The applicants were all stopped by the police, either late at night or in the early hours of the morning, in separate incidents which occurred between 2005 and 2008. They spent a few hours in custody and were released, except for Mr Korolev who was released a few days later. They allege that they were punched and kicked or, in the case of Mr Kolistratov, that his face was hit against a wall, during their arrest, at the police station or both. In the subsequent medical reports all the applicants were found to have sustained injuries which were the result of impacts from hard, blunt objects.
Following the applicants’ complaints of ill-treatment, pre-investigation inquiries were carried out.
However, the investigating authorities, essentially citing statements made by the police officers involved, dismissed the applicants’ allegations. They notably found that the applicants’ injuries had either been self-inflicted or sustained as a result of the lawful use of force during arrest or “in other circumstances”. The investigators’ decisions refusing to open a criminal case were annulled between three and 20 times in each applicant’s case by their superiors who, considering that the inquiries were incomplete, ordered new ones. The investigators’ most recent refusals to initiate criminal proceedings were upheld by the domestic courts between 2005 and 2010. In one of the cases, that of Mr Lebedev, an additional inquiry was again ordered in 2013.
Before their release from custody, four of the applicants were found guilty of administrative offences and were either fined or suspended from driving because they had been drunk. Mr Ksenz was informed that he had been arrested for the criminal offence of insulting a public official.
However, no criminal or administrative proceedings were ever brought against him. Nor were criminal proceedings brought against Mr Lebedev, who was detained for driving a car without a licence plate; administrative proceedings were brought against him a month after his release.
Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, the applicants complained about the use of force by the police, also alleging that no effective investigation had been carried out into their complaints. Mr Ksenz and Mr Lebedev also alleged that their detention had been unlawful, in breach of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security).
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 3 (inhuman and degrading treatment) – in respect of all the applicants
Violation of Article 3 (investigation) – in respect of all the applicants
Violation of Article 5 § 1 – in respect of Mr Ksenz and Mr Lebedev
– for non-pecuniary damage: EUR 26,000 to Mr Ksenz, EUR 30,000 to Mr Lebedev, EUR 10,000 to Mr Korolev, EUR 6,000 to Mr Ivanov’s widow, EUR 7,000 to Mr Kolistratov, and EUR 20,000 to Mr Sergeyev for non-pecuniary damage; – for costs and expenses : EUR 2,000 to Mr Lebedev and EUR 3,300 to Mr Korolev (echrcaselaw.com editing).