Denis Vasilyev v Russia: ECHR 17 Dec 2009

The applicant and his friend were seriously assaulted and robbed. Although police officers attended the scene, no investigation into the circumstances of the assault were conducted. The police officers claimed to have considered that the applicant and his friend were intoxicated, so they moved them from the position where they had been found and left them. A number of criminal investigations were subsequently instituted, largely on the initiative of the applicant’s mother. It was decided to suspend the proceedings because the perpetrators could not be identified. This decision was reversed and restored on a number of occasions. The two police officers who had attended the scene were prosecuted for failing to fulfil their legal duty to protect victims of offences. They were acquitted. The applicant did not lay blame on the state authorities for the attack; nor was it suggested that they knew or ought to have known that the applicant was at risk of physical violence at the hands of third parties.
Held: This did not absolve the state from obligations under article 3. What the article required was that ‘the authorities conduct an effective investigation into the alleged ill-treatment even if such treatment has been inflicted by private individuals’. It elaborated on this statement: ‘For the investigation to be regarded as ‘effective’, it should in principle be capable of leading to the establishment of the facts of the case and to the identification and punishment of those responsible. This is not an obligation of result, but one of means. The authorities must have taken the reasonable steps available to them to secure the evidence concerning the incident, including, inter alia, eyewitness testimony, forensic evidence, and so on. Any deficiency in the investigation which undermines its ability to establish the cause of injuries or the identity of the persons responsible will risk falling foul of this standard, and a requirement of promptness and reasonable expedition is implicit in this context (see, among many authorities, Mikheyev v Russia, no 77617/01, para 107 et seq, 26 January 2006, and Assenov and Others v Bulgaria, judgment of 28 October 1998, Reports 1998-VIII, paras 102 et seq).’
There had been a violation of article 3 under its procedural limb in that the investigation into the assault on the applicant was ineffective. He was awarded compensation.


32704/04, [2009] ECHR 2078




European Convention on Human Rights


Human Rights

Cited by:

CitedCommissioner of Police of The Metropolis v DSD and Another SC 21-Feb-2018
Two claimants had each been sexually assaulted by a later notorious, multiple rapist. Each had made complaints to police about their assaults but said that no effective steps had been taken to investigate the serious complaints.
Held: The . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights

Updated: 11 August 2022; Ref: scu.384339