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EuropeanConventionHandbookForPolice

The use of force in

The use of force in policing Page 39 entific methods of criminal investigation, through appropriate investment in equipment and skilled human resources, so as to reduce the reliance on confessions to secure convictions.’ In addition, ‘electronic recording of police interviews is in the interest both of persons who have been ill-treated by the police and of police officers confronted with unfounded allegations that they have engaged in physical ill-treatment.’ 111 Conditions of detention may also result in violations of Article 3. Availability of food, water, privacy, space, medical assistance and recreation facilities may raise issues in this regard. 112 Positive obligations Article 3 also includes a positive obligation on the police to take steps to seek to prevent the infliction of torture or ill-treatment by private persons or groups. 113 In the event that the police have information which indicates that a person is being, or is to be, subjected to treatment in violation of Article 3, it must take feasible operational steps within its power to prevent this. Examples of such steps include investigating such claims and arresting suspects where there are grounds to do so. For example, the Strasbourg Court has ruled that there is a positive obligation to investigate allegations of rape. The obligation on the State in this context is to have a legal framework, which provides appropriate protection for victims of sexual offences, including rape. 114 This protection thus requires that reasonable and effective measures be taken by the authorities, including with regard to children and other vulnerable individuals, in order to prevent ill-treatment of which the authorities were or ought to have been aware. 115 Particular care must be taken to ensure that victims of domestic violence have their allegations properly investigated and that steps are taken to protect them from further threats. 116 ■ In Gldani v Georgia, the Strasbourg Court considered whether the response of the Georgian police to ill-treatment inflicted on a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses by a group of Orthodox Christian extremists complied with the 111 CPT/Inf (2012) 11 at paragraphs 17 and 28 [Albania]. 112 Ciorap v Moldova, judgment of 19 June 2007 at paragraphs 60 to 71. 113 Note that the State will be held directly responsible for rapes committed by State agents: Maslova and Nalbandov v Russia, judgment of 24 January 2008. 114 MC v Bulgaria, judgment of 4 December 2003, paragraphs 148-187 (in terms of Articles 3 and 8). 115 Mubilanzila Mayeka and Kaniki Mitunga v Belgium, judgment of 12 October 2006. 116 See Opuz v Turkey, judgment of 9 June 2009, discussed at p. 66 below.

The European Convention on Human Rights and Policing Page 40 positive obligation. This ill-treatment included beating them with sticks and crosses, cutting their hair and the infliction of serious bodily injuries. The police, when approached by some of the victims, did not provide any assistance. The head of the local station reportedly stated that he would have inflicted a worse beating on the congregation. The police took no steps to prevent further illtreatment and no effective investigation or preventive measures were taken against the extremist group responsible. The Strasbourg Court found that the police and other relevant authorities had failed to comply with their positive obligations under Article 3. 117 Investigating credible allegations of ill-treatment Furthermore, Article 3 of the Convention gives rise to a positive obligation to conduct an official investigation into credible allegations of ill-treatment. 118 This obligation is not, in principle, limited solely to cases of ill-treatment by State agents. 119 Accordingly, the authorities have an obligation to take action as soon as an official complaint has been lodged. 120 Even in the absence of a specific complaint, an investigation should be undertaken if there are other sufficiently clear indications that torture or ill-treatment might have occurred. A requirement of promptness and reasonable expedition is implicit in this context. A prompt response by the authorities in investigating allegations of ill-treatment may generally be regarded as essential in maintaining public confidence in their maintenance of the rule of law and in preventing any appearance of collusion in, or tolerance of, unlawful acts. Tolerance by the authorities towards such acts cannot but undermine public confidence in the principle of lawfulness and the State’s maintenance of the rule of law. In the event that a police officer or other State official has been found to have caused treatment in violation of Article 3, he must be sanctioned. The precise nature of the sanctions is a matter for national law, but they must reflect the seriousness of the matter. ■ In Paduret v Moldova, a police officer was found to have seriously assaulted a member of the public. However, the treatment of the applicant was severe and should, according to the Strasbourg Court, have been classified as torture. The officer should, it said, have been charged with the more serious offence of 117 Gldani v Georgia, judgment of 3 May 2007. 118 Assenov and Others v Bulgaria, judgment of 28 October 1998. 119 MC v Bulgaria, judgment of 4 December 2003 at paragraph 151. 120 Lipencov v Moldova, judgment of 25 January 2011.