European Court of Human Rights
28 July 1999

Facts

The applicant, Mr Selmouni, was arrested in France for drug trafficking. He claimed that while in police custody he was ill-treated - raped, punched, kicked, urinated on, and threatened with a blowlamp and a syringe. All, except the rape, was confirmed by the French courts and the policemen were convicted.

Complaint

The applicant complained that the manner in which he had been treated while in police custody constitutes ill-treatment and had given rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

Court's ruling

Torture should be distinguished from the inhumane or degrading treatment as ‘deliberate inhumane treatment causing very serious and cruel suffering’. The Court observed that the violent nature of the acts against Mr Selmouni would be heinous and humiliating for anyone, irrespective of their condition. It was clearly established that Mr Selmouni endured repeated and sustained assaults over a number of days of questioning. Under these circumstances, the Court ruled that the physical and mental violence, considered as a whole, committed against Mr Selmouni caused ‘severe’ pain and suffering and was particularly serious and cruel. Such conduct must be regarded as acts of torture, thus Article 3 of the Convention has been violated.

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