European Court finds that ill-treatment in Savin v Ukraine amounted to torture

On 16th February 2012, in Savin v Ukraine (application no. 34725/08), the European Court of Human Rights held in a Chamber judgment in favour of the applicant Vyachelslav Savin, a Russian national residing in Ukraine. The police summoned Mr. Savin to a police station in 1999 as a witness to a fraud cause, where an officer beat him until he confessed. As a result of severe blows to the head, Mr. Savin became disabled. He now suffers from sensory and motor impairment and a convulsive disorder. Although he repeatedly attempted lodging complaints with prosecution authorities, they refused to initiate criminal proceedings against the police six times between 1999 and 2008. The Court found that according to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the treatment Mr. Savin endured in detention amounted to torture, citing medical experts’ findings that his disabilities were a direct result of the ill-treatment. Since the investigation of the case took over ten years, the Court found that Article 3 of the ECHR was in violation as investigators failed to follow the instructions of higher-level prosecutors. Although the officer responsible for torturing Mr. Savin was found guilty, the only consequence he faced was a temporary suspension from duty. The Court also held that a violation of Article 5(1) of the ECHR on the right to liberty and security had occurred since the domestic investigation revealed that Mr. Savin’s detention had been based on a false administrative offence report.

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