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EuropeanConventionHandbookForPolice

The use of force in

The use of force in policing Page 37 The use of any force against a person by police which is not necessitated by their conduct will raise an issue under Article 3. When police are planning an arrest operation, they are required to evaluate the possible risks and take all necessary measures for the proper carrying out of the arrest. This includes an obligation to minimise the likelihood of the recourse to the use of force. Adequate planning must be undertaken, and procedures must be in place, to comply with this obligation. ■ In Rehbock v Slovenia, police officers wished to arrest a German bodybuilder, suspected of illegally importing drugs into Slovenia. He resisted arrest, and during a struggle he incurred a serious injury to his jaw. The Court held that in such a pre-planned operation, the standards required of the police were higher than in a spontaneous situation. In the absence of credible arguments justifying the police’s conduct, the Court found that Mr Rehbock had been a victim of a violation of Article 3, as he had suffered inhuman treatment. 104 If discriminatory considerations have played a part in the treatment of detainees by State officials, Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 3 will be of relevance. The phenomenon is, regrettably, common across Europe and has recently been documented by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. In a report on a visit to Slovakia, he referred to a case where police officers forced a group of Roma boys to ‘take off their clothes, stand naked against a wall and hit and kiss each other while the officers shouted anti-Roma statements at them.’ They filmed the incident and posted the video on the internet. It was also alleged that the boys were threatened with loaded guns. 105 That racism can influence the discharge of policing through, for example, excessive use of force or the ill-treatment of detainees, or through the use of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, has also been recognised by the Commissioner for Human Rights 106 and by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. 107 However, there must be some evidence to support an allegation that there has been discrimination. 104 Rehbock v Slovenia, judgment of 28 November 2000. 105 Report by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, following his visit to Slovakia, from 26 to 27 September 2011. Strasbourg, 20 December 2011CommDH(2011)4 at paragraph 37. 106 See for example CommDH (2004) 2, ‘Report of the Commissioner for Human Rights on the visit to Cyprus, June 2003’ at paragraph 34. 107 See for example, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, ECRI’s Countryby-Country Approach: Compilation of Second Round Reports 1999-2003, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 2004: such issues were identified, inter alia, in Albania (p. 4), Austria (p. 30), Belgium (p. 48), Bulgaria (p. 56), Georgia (p. 130), Hungary (pp. 155-156), Italy (p. 183),

The European Convention on Human Rights and Policing Page 38 ■ In Balogh v Hungary, while the Court found violations of Article 3 in respect of the infliction of ill-treatment of a Roma during police interrogation and the inadequacy of the investigation, it determined that there had been no substantiation of the applicant’s allegation that he had been subjected to discriminatory treatment. 108 The problem in such instances is clear: it is often easier to establish actual illtreatment than it is to show that this was inflicted on account of the individual’s membership of a minority group, even though it may be recognised that discriminatory treatment reflects ingrained attitudes prevalent in a police service. An issue of serious concern is the phenomenon of abductions and disappearances, perpetrated by police or military officials. These are primarily now associated with the conflicts in South East Turkey and Chechnya in Russia. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in a report concerning Russia, stated that he: [W]ould like to underline once again that a person’s disappearance is a grave human rights violation. Moreover, the deleterious effects of such a tragedy are far-reaching. Disappearances have a profound effect on the whole of society, starting from the individual’s close family and friends, all of whom suffer from not knowing and from a sense that their plight is being ignored by the authorities. The lack of knowledge can cast those concerned in a state of perpetual distress, depriving them of the possibility to lead a normal life. 109 As noted above, ill-treatment is common during the arrest and initial investigation phases of police detention. One reason for this may be that many police services rely heavily on confessions to prevent and detect crime. Consistent and full application of the procedural rights of detainees 110 will help reduce ill-treatment. In addition, ‘greater emphasis should be given to modern sci- Portugal (p. 273), ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ (p.359), Turkey (p. 366) and Ukraine (p.376). The majority of these references regard the treatment of Roma/Gypsies. During the third round of country visits focusing upon implementation, ECRI again found it necessary to report continuing ill-treatment of minority groups such as Roma and noncitizens: see Third Report on Greece, CRI (2004) 24, paragraph 105; and Third Report on Hungary, CRI (2004) 25, paragraph 88. 108 Balogh v Hungary, judgment of 20 July 2004 at paragraph 79. But compare Nachova and Others v Bulgaria, judgment of 6 July 2005, discussed at p. 20 above (in respect of loss of life). 109 Report by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, following his visit to the Russian Federation from 12 to 21 May 2011 Strasbourg, 6 September 2011, CommDH(2011)21. 110 See chapter 4 of this Handbook.