The process of supervising the execution of an ECtHR ruling pending before the Committee of Ministers does not prevent a new appeal in respect of new aspects of the same case that were not dealt with in the original decision.
V.D. v. Croatia 15.11.2018 (n. 2) (no. 19421/15)
Execution of decisions. ECtHR’s conviction and new information on the same case. Following the condemnation of Croatia regarding the ineffective and incomplete investigation into police violence, the national authorities re-investigated to find police accountability for the reported mistreatment. The new research found no evidence of ill-treatment and the case was closed. Complaint of the applicant about the ineffectiveness of the new investigation. According to the European Court of Human Rights, the errors of the investigation constituted new information in relation to the previous decision and could therefore be examined by the Court in the context of a new appeal, even though the enforcement of the initial decision was still pending before the Committee of Ministers. No infringement of the procedural part of Article 3 of the ECHR.
The applicant, Mr V.D., is a Croatian national who was born in 1960.
The case concerned the applicant’s complaint about an investigation into his allegations of police
brutality. The investigation was launched after the Court had earlier found a violation of the
applicant’s rights under the substantive and procedural aspect of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman
or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights (V.D. v. Croatia,
no. 15526/10, 8 November 2011).
The applicant, who suffered from schizophrenia, was arrested in August 2006 following a family
argument. In November 2011, the Court found that the investigation into his arguable claim of police
ill-treatment during his arrest had not been effective and had violated his rights. The Court also
found that the applicant had been subjected to ill-treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention.
Under an action plan for the execution of the Court’s judgment, the domestic authorities in June
2014 re-opened the investigation into the police officers alleged to have ill-treated him.
The State Attorney’s Office took various investigatory steps, including interviews with the police
officers, the applicant, witnesses to the incident and one of the paramedics who had attended him.
In December 2014 the State Attorney’s Office terminated the investigation with a reasoned decision
owing to a lack of evidence of any ill-treatment or excessive use of force by the police. The
Constitutional Court rejected a complaint by the applicant about that decision in February 2015.
Separately, the applicant sought compensation in the civil courts. That case ended in April 2016
when the State paid him about 8,850 euros for damage, costs and expenses. The applicant died of
heart failure in November 2017 after being placed in a psychiatric hospital.
The applicant complained that the second investigation had also failed to meet the requirements of
Article 3 of the Convention.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
The Court had to ascertain whether it had jurisdiction to consider the applicant’s complaint without encroaching on the prerogatives of the respondent State and the Committee of Ministers under Article 46 in the execution of the Court’s judgment in the case of V.D. v. Croatia.
The fresh investigation had given rise to a number of further procedural measures that had been taken by the State Attorney’s Office, which had led to the collection of further evidence and the establishment of new facts concerning the applicant’s case. The applicant’s complaints concerned the effectiveness of the fresh investigation and the decision of the State Attorney’s Office to terminate that investigation on the basis of new evidence adduced and facts established.
In those circumstances, the alleged lack of effectiveness of the fresh investigation, and more specifically the errors which the applicant claimed had vitiated the decision of the State Attorney’s Office to terminate the proceedings, constituted new information in relation to the Court’s previous judgment. As those issues could not have been decided by the previous judgment since they were related to the way the new investigation had been conducted, they could be dealt with by the Court.
The fact that a supervision procedure in respect of the execution of the initial judgment was still pending before the Committee of Ministers did not prevent the Court from considering a new application in so far as it included new aspects which had not been determined in the initial judgment.
The Court held, unanimously, that there had been no violation of the procedural limb of Article 3 of the Convention(echrcaselaw.com editing).