Süheyla Aydin v. Turkey

App. No. 25660/94, 42 Eur. H.R. Rep. 44 (2006).
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Applicant, a Turkish national and her husband, Nacati Aydın were detained by the Turkish police. She suffered degrading treatment whilst her husband was subjected to torture. Her husband was subsequently brought before a judge who ordered his release, however, he never physically came out of the court room and was later found tied up and buried with three others in a grave with a bullet wound through his head.

The applicant alleged that she had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment while in police custody and her husband to torture in violation of Article 3 (freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment) of the European Convention on Human Rights (Convention). Furthermore, the applicant submitted that her husband, had been killed by agents of the State and the authorities had failed to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances of his killing in violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the Convention. Consequently, she had no effective remedy in violation of Article 13 (right to remedy) of the Convention. The applicant also claimed a violation of Article 11 (freedom of association) of the Convention as she submitted that she and her husband were targeted on account of the authorities’ suspicion that they were involved in a trade union.

The Court held that the Turkish Government had violated Mr. Aydin’s rights under Article 2 (right to life) as they failed to account for his death and did not provide for any investigation in the aftermath.The Court found that there were sufficient grounds to establish that the extensive injuries inflicted upon the applicant amounted to ill-treatment prior to his death attributable to the authorities contrary to Article 3 (freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment). Lastly, the Court found a violation of Article 13 (right to remedy) as the applicant had been denied an effective remedy on account of the ineffective criminal investigation subsequent to her husband’s death. In light of its decision regarding Article 2, the Court did not consider it necessary to examine Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association). Having regard to its findings under Articles 2, 3, and 13, the Court did not find it necessary to determine whether the above failings were part of a systematic practice adopted by Turkish authorities.

"145. The Court reiterates at the outset that persons in custody are in a vulnerable position and the authorities are under a duty to protect them. It has previously held that, where an individual is taken into police custody in good health and is found to be injured on release, it is incumbent on the State to provide a plausible explanation of how those injuries were caused (see, among other authorities, Selmouni v. France [GC], no. 25803/94, § 87, ECHR 1999-V). The obligation on the authorities to account for the treatment of an individual in custody is particularly stringent where that individual dies (see Salman v. Turkey [GC], no. 21986/93, § 99, ECHR 2000-VII). It follows from this that the authorities are responsible for the well-being of detainees until their release and it is for the respondent State to prove that a detainee has been released."

"159. The text of Article 2, read as a whole, demonstrates that it covers not only intentional killing but also situations where it is permitted to “use force” which may result, as an unintended outcome, in the deprivation of life. The deliberate or intended use of lethal force is only one factor, however, to be taken into account in assessing its necessity. Any use of force must be no more than “absolutely necessary” for the achievement of one or more of the purposes set out in sub-paragraphs (a) to (c). This term indicates that a stricter and more compelling test of necessity must be employed from that normally applicable when determining whether State action is “necessary in a democratic society” under paragraph 2 of Articles 8 to 11 of the Convention. Consequently, the force used must be strictly proportionate to the achievement of the permitted aims (ibid., p. 46, §§ 148-49)."

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