Selmouni v France: ECHR 28 Jul 1999

Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection rejected (non-exhaustion); Violation of Art. 3; Violation of Art. 6-1; Non-pecuniary damage – financial award; Costs and expenses award – Convention proceedings
The claimant said that he had been severely beaten whilst detained in police custody for interview.
Held: ‘Article 3 enshrines one of the most fundamental values of democratic societies. Even in the most difficult circumstances, such as the fight against terrorism and organised crime, the Convention prohibits in absolute terms torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment . . Article 3 makes no provision for exceptions and no derogation from it is permissible under Article 15(2) even in the event of public emergency threatening the life of the nation . . In order to determine whether a particular form of ill-treatment should be qualified as torture, the court must have regard to the distinction, embodied in Article 3, between this notion and that of inhuman or degrading treatment. As the European Court has previously found, it appears that it was the intention that the Convention should, by means of this distinction, attach a special stigma to deliberate inhuman treatment causing very serious and cruel suffering . . The acts complained of [in Selmouni] were such as to arouse in the applicant feelings of fear, anguish, and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing him and possibly breaking his physical and moral resistance. The court therefore finds elements which are sufficiently serious as to render such treatment inhuman and degrading . . In any event, the court reiterates that, in respect of a person deprived of his liberty, recourse to physical force which has not been made strictly necessary by his own conduct diminishes human dignity and is in principle an infringement of the right set forth in Article 3 . .
The court has previously examined cases in which it concluded that there had been treatment which could only be described as torture . . However, having regard to the fact that the Convention is a ‘living instrument which must be interpreted in the light of present-day conditions’, the court considers that certain acts which were classified in the past as ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ as opposed to ‘torture’ could be classified differently in future . . It takes the view that the increasingly high standard being required in the area of the protection of human rights and fundamental liberties correspondingly and inevitably requires greater firmness in assessing breaches of the fundamental values of democratic societies.’
L Wildhaber, P
(1999) 29 EHRR 403, 25803/94, [1999] ECHR 66, (2000) 7 BHRC 1
Bailii, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights 3
CitedSelmouni v France ECHR 25-Nov-1996
. .

Cited by:
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When the Court of Appeal was asked to look at the decision of the Home Secretary on an appeal to him for asylum, the court should investigate the factual circumstances which lay behind the decision. The court must follow the practice of the European . .
CitedPS, Regina (on the Application of) v Responsible Medical Officer, Dr G and others Admn 10-Oct-2003
The claimant had been compulsorily detained under the Act. He complained that the detention and compulsory medication infringed his rights, and amongst other things breached his religious beliefs.
Held: This was an exceptional case requiring . .
CitedA and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) HL 8-Dec-2005
The applicants had been detained following the issue of certificates issued by the respondent that they posed a terrorist threat. They challenged the decisions of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission saying that evidence underlying the . .
JudgmentSelmouni v France ECHR 3-Dec-2009
Execution of judgment . .
CitedEweida And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 15-Jan-2013
The named claimant had been employed by British Airways. She was a committed Christian and wished to wear a small crucifix on a chain around her neck. This breached the then dress code and she was dismissed. Her appeals had failed. Other claimants . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 06 January 2021; Ref: scu.165752