Re: Boukrourou and others v France (application no. 30059/15).
The case involves a death of an individual who was suffering from several psychiatric disorders who became a victim of ill-treatment during a police operation. The victim’s family were the applicants in this case, and they claimed there was a violation of Article 2 (right to life) ECHR and Article 3 (prohibition of torture).
Whilst the victim was collecting his medication from his local pharmacy, a dispute arose between the victim and the pharmacist. The victim became angry and started raising his voice, it was clear that the victim was unwell as his speech was incoherent. The victim refused to leave the pharmacy and the police were called upon. Four policemen arrived to ask the victim to leave. The victim persistently refused which led to the police seizing him by the arm and leg. Whilst the officers attempted to handcuff the victim, one of the officers punched the victim twice on the “solar plexus”. After being handcuffed, the police applied considerable pressure to various body parts despite the victim being securely fastened on the back seat of the van. Upon noticing that the victim had stopped breathing for some time, the officers called the fire brigade and emergency medical service. Despite the service’s quick response in carrying out cardiac massage, the victim had sadly passed away.
Was there a violation of Article 2 and Article 3?
The court found that there was no violation of Article 2 (right to life), as the officers had not used “lethal force” against the victim. The victim died suddenly due to “intense and prolonged emotional and physical stress”, and suffered from an attack on an artery of the heart. The court concluded that there was no “causal link” between the force used and the victim’s death.
However, the court found that there was a violation of Article 3, due to the injuries the victim sustained when being arrested. It was clear that the police used unnecessary violence, when attempting to subdue the victim. The victim was a vulnerable person and the use of violence against him was inhumane. The excessive force used on a vulnerable individual, was unacceptable and falls completely below policing standards. The court noted that the acts were an “infringement of human dignity”.
Brunel Law School