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The ECHR practice review. Credibility of claims about brutal treatment: questions, substantiations

News

20 May 2020

Lawyers with the Committee Against Torture prepared a review of the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights for 2015-2020 on the subject: "Credibility of claims about brutal treatment: questions, substantiations".

During the examination of complaints against the violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (“prohibition of torture”), the European Court of Human Rights is guided by the rule according to which the applications concerning brutal treatment shall be substantiated by corresponding evidence provided by the applicant.

This evidence may be in the form of primary medical documents on bodily injuries, medical forensic expert examinations, witnesses’ testimonies, photographs of bodily injuries and etc. This evidence should convince the Court that the bodily injuries were indeed inflicted to the applicant and that the degree of their severity exceeded the acceptable level of brutality in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention.

If the applicant was in good health before direct contact with the authorities’ agents, but had bodily injuries by the moment of release from the state control, the burden of proof is shifted on the state, which is obliged to provide a convincing explanation of how the applicant received his injuries. If such substantiation is not present, the European Court is entitled to pass a ruling not in the profit of the defendant state.

Our review presents the Court’s stance on the credibility of the claims of brutal treatment and lists the specific circumstances influencing the evidence evaluation by the Court.

“This review will be useful for the lawyers who submit applications to the European Court of Human Rights concerning violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as to judges, law-enforcement officers and all who are interested in human rights defense agenda”, – one of the authors of the review, expert on international law with the Committee Against Torture Ekaterina Vanslova comments.