Case of Çoşelav v. Turkey

CASE OF ÇOŞELAV v. TURKEY (Application no. 1413/07)
Download Judgment: English
Region: Europe
Year: 2012
Court: European Court of Human Rights
Tags: Incarceration, Mental disorder, Minor, Right to Life

Bilal Çoşelav (17 years old), the applicant’s son, who had psychological problems was detained at Kars Prison. He attempted to take his life on 29th December 2003 whereupon disciplinary proceedings were brought against him for his attempted suicide but no punishment was imposed. He made another attempt on his life on 19thJanuary 2004. He was transferred to Erzurum Prison where he was transferred from the juvenile wing to the adult wing at his request by the prison authorities. On 16th February 2004, Bilal Çoşelav told the prison governor that he wanted to be transferred to another wing as he did not get on with the people in his wing. Between February and December 2004, Bilal Çoşelav wrote twenty-two (22) letters to the prison governor and the prosecutor of Erzurum Prison stating that he urgently needed to see the governor so as to discuss his personal problems.

On the few occasions that his requests were granted, he informed the governor that he wanted to be transferred to another wing in the prison; that he had not been visited regularly by his family and that he wanted to work in the prison to earn more money.

Bilal Çoşelav hanged himself from the iron bars of his cell with his bed sheets. The second applicant (Bekir Çoşelav) was informed of his son’s death thirteen later. An investigation began into Bilal  Çoşelav’s death but was closed as the prosecutor stated that no one had incited Bilal Çoşelav to commit suicide. The applicants filed an objection against the prosecutor’s decision to close the criminal investigation which got dismissed.

The applicants alleged, in particular, that the national authorities had failed to protect the right to life of their son while he was being detained in prison.

The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 2 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ('the Convention") both substantively and procedurally.

The Court declared the complaints concerning the applicants’ son’s right to life admissible. The Court held that there had been a violation of Article 2 of the Convention in its substantive aspect on account of the national authorities’ failure to protect the right to life of the applicant's son Bilal Çoşelav.

Considering the disciplinary proceedings brought against Bilal Çoşelav and the indifference displayed toward his grave psychological problems, the Court concluded that the national authorities were not only responsible for the deterioration of Bilal Çoşelav’s mental health by detaining him with adult prisoners, and they also manifestly failed to provide any medical or other specialist care to alleviate those problems.

The Court found a violation of the procedural aspect of Article 2 of the Convention due to the national authorities’ failure to carry out an effective investigation into the death of the applicants’ son.