VIEWS: 69 PAGES: 8 POSTED ON: 8/7/2010
PART I Miscarriage
GREEK HELSINKI MONITOR (GHM) Address: P.O. Box 60820, GR-15304 Glyka Nera Telephone: (+30) 2103472259 Fax: (+30) 2106018760 e-mail: email@example.com website: http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr PRESS RELEASE 6 December 2007 European Court of Human Rights rules that Greece violated prohibition of torture and of discrimination in injury of pregnant Romni. Fifth successful GHM application to the ECtHR. Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) expresses great satisfaction on the 6 December 2007 European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimous conviction of Greece in the Case of Fani-Yannula Petropoulou-Tsakiris. The application No. 44803/04 was submitted to the ECtHR by GHM and the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC). According to the ECtHR, Greece violated Articles 3 (prohibition of torture) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the lack of an effective investigation into the allegations of police brutality, and of an investigation of possible racial motives behind the pregnant Romni’s ill- treatment, combined with the generally partial attitude throughout the investigation. Greece must award the victim 21,000 euros for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage. The events of 28 January 2002 that led to the conviction and the ECtHR ruling are briefly described in the Court’s release attached. The full judgment in English is available at: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=826734&portal=hbkm&sour ce=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649. This is only the fourth conviction of Greece for ill-treatment by police. The first ruling, issued on 13 December 2005, concerned the beating of Roma Lazaros Bekos and Eleftherios Koutropoulos on 8 May 1998, and was the result of an application filed also by GHM and ERRC (see http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=1500). The second ruling, issued on 18 January 2007, concerned the beating of Syrian Mhn Ghassan Alsayed Allaham on 8 September 1998 (http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=813016&portal=hbkm&sou rce=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649). The third ruling, issued on 24 May 2007, concerned the beating of Dimitris Zelilof on 23 December 2001, in a case filed too by GHM (see http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=3136). There are also three convictions of Greece by the ECtHR for a violation of Article 2 (right to life). The first ruling, issued on 20 December 2004, concerned the shooting of Christos Makaratzis (http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=709521&portal=hbkm&sou rce=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649) on 13 September 1995. The second ruling, issued on 21 June 2007, concerned the shooting and rendering invalid, on 26 January 1998, of Rom Ioannis Karagiannopoulos, and was the result of an application filed also by GHM (see http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=3153). The third ruling, issued on 8 July 2007, concerned the fatal shooting of Albanian Gentjan Celniku on 21 November 2001, and was the result of an application filed also by GHM (see http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/index.php?sec=194&cid=3158). Greece has so far been convicted in seven cases of police violence, of which five have been the result of applications by GHM. On 18 October 2007, GHM also won a length-of-proceedings case (Gjashta 1 http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=824606&portal=hbkm&source= externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649). 2 EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS 885 6.12.2007 Press release issued by the Registrar CHAMBER JUDGMENT PETROPOULOU-TSAKIRIS v. GREECE http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=2&portal=hbkm&action=html&highlight=&sessio nid=3830049&skin=hudoc-pr-en The European Court of Human Rights has today notified in writing its Chamber judgment1 in the case of Petropoulou-Tsakiris v. Greece (application no. 44803/04) (http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=826734&portal=hbkm&sou rce=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649 judgment in English) The Court held, by six votes to one: that there had been no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the applicant’s allegation that she had been the victim of police brutality; and further held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention concerning the lack of an effective investigation into the applicant’s allegation; and, that there had been a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 3. Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court awarded the applicant 20,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 1,000 for costs and expenses. (The judgment is available only in English.) 1. Principal facts The applicant, Fani-Yannula Petropoulou-Tsakiris, is a Greek national of Roma ethnic origin who lives in Nea Zoe, a Roma settlement in Aspropyrgos (Greece). The case concerned, in particular, the applicant’s allegations that she suffered from a miscarriage as a result of police brutality and that the authorities failed to carry out an adequate investigation into the incident. On 28 January 2002, a police operation involving 32 police officers was carried out in Nea Zoe following a tip-off about drug trafficking. 3 The applicant, two-and-a-half months pregnant at the time, claimed that, during that operation, she was waiting to be searched along with other Roma women when she noticed that a disabled relative of hers was being taunted by police officers. On trying to intervene, she was forcefully pushed back by one police officer and kicked in the back by another. She felt intense pain in the abdomen and started bleeding. She was not taken to hospital by the police and, not having any identification documents, feared going of her own accord. The Government denied the applicant’s version of events and indeed any other allegations that civilians had been assaulted or subjected to racial abuse on 28 January 2002. On 29 January 2002, members of the Greek Helsinki Monitor rushed the applicant to Elena Venizelou Maternity Clinic. On 1 February 2002 she had a miscarriage. The medical report drawn up at the end of the applicant’s hospitalisation stated that she “was admitted to hospital on 29 January 2002, 10 weeks pregnant, with haemorrhaging from her uterus” and that “on 2 February 2002 there was a complete expulsion of the foetus”. On 1 February 2002 the applicant lodged a criminal complaint and joined the proceedings as a civil party seeking damages. She also asked to have an independent medical examination, named three witnesses who could testify to her miscarriage and included the address and telephone numbers of her lawyers. She subsequently also requested that Aspropyrgos police officers be excluded from the preliminary investigation since they had participated in the operation and it was most likely one of them who had ill-treated her. However, Aspropyrgos police carried out the inquiry and, on 28 November 2002, forwarded the file to the Athens Public Prosecutor, indicating that the two police officers who had been interviewed had no knowledge of any ill-treatment. On 10 September 2003, the Prosecutor requested the applicant to be summoned. However, on 16 January 2004 a court bailiff failed to carry out that order because he was unable to find the applicant in Nea Zoe. On 3 July 2004 the Prosecutor closed the file with the conclusion: “Perpetrator unknown”. In the meantime, due to the publicity generated, the Chief of Greek Police launched an informal investigation into the incident on 5 March 2002. The Deputy Director of Greek Police, A.V., who had been involved in the operation, interviewed five senior police officers who stated that they had not witnessed any ill-treatment of Romas on 28 January 2002. In his report drawn up on 7 March 2002, A.V. concluded that “the complaints are exaggerated… It is in fact a common tactic by the athinganoi (Greek for Roma) to resort to slandering police officers with the obvious purpose of weakening any form of police control”. 2. Procedure and composition of the Court The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 2 December 2004. Judgment was given by a Chamber of seven judges, composed as follows: Loukis Loucaides (Cypriot), President, Christos Rozakis (Greek), Nina Vajić (Croatian), Anatoli Kovler (Russian), Elisabeth Steiner (Austrian), 4 Khanlar Hajiyev (Azerbaijani), Giorgio Malinverni (Swiss), judges, and also Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar. 3. Summary of the judgment2 Complaints Relying on Article 3 and Article 13, the applicant alleged that she had been the victim of police brutality, resulting in a miscarriage, and that the Greek authorities had failed to carry out an adequate investigation into her allegation. She further alleged that her Roma ethnic origin had influenced the attitude and behaviour of the police and judicial authorities, in violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 3. Decision of the Court Article 3 Concerning the alleged ill-treatment The Court noted that the circumstances in which the applicant’s bleeding had occurred on 28 January 2002 were not entirely clear. The medical report only stated that she had bled and suffered from a miscarriage. No reference was made to bruises, injuries or any other cause of the bleeding. Furthermore, the applicant had not produced evidence in support of her allegations of ill- treatment, such as eye-witness statements. Since the evidence before it did not enable the Court to find beyond all reasonable doubt that the applicant’s miscarriage had been the result of ill-treatment by the police, the Court held that there had been no violation of Article 3. Concerning the investigation The Court found that there had been shortcomings in the criminal proceedings. As a whole, they had been very slow, two years and five months, with long periods of inactivity. The preliminary inquiry had been conducted by those police officers who had participated in the police operation of 28 January 2002, despite the applicant having requested that they be excluded. The authorities had refused to consider the applicant’s medical report and, despite her request, had not ordered an independent medical examination. The Court could not agree with the Government that the investigation’s failure had been entirely the applicant’s responsibility because she could not be located. Indeed, the authorities had been given the contact details of the applicant’s lawyers but had closed the case without further inquiries. As far as the administrative proceedings were concerned, the Court observed that the authorities had not considered it necessary to carry out a Sworn Administrative Inquiry (Ενοπκη Διοικητική Εξέταση) usually required under Greek domestic law in the face of serious allegations concerning police brutality. On the contrary, an informal investigation had been completed in less than one day by the Deputy Director of the Greek Police who had been actively involved in the operation of 28 January 2002. His report had only been based on testimonies given by five police officers, also 5 involved in the incident; neither the applicant nor any of the other alleged victims of police brutality had been examined. The Court concluded that both the judicial and administrative investigations had been inadequate and had therefore not been effective, in violation of Article 3. Article 13 Given that finding, the Court further held that there was no need to examine separately the complaint under Article 13. Article 14 The Court was struck by the sweeping statements concerning Roma made by the Deputy Director of Greek Police and found that such comments revealed a general discriminatory attitude by the authorities which had reinforced the applicant’s belief that the lack of an effective investigation into the incident had been due to her Roma ethnic origin. The Court found that the failure of the Greek authorities to investigate possible racial motives behind the applicant’s ill-treatment, combined with the generally partial attitude throughout the investigation, constituted discrimination, in violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 3. Judge Loucaides expressed a partly dissenting opinion, which is annexed to the judgment. *** The Court’s judgments are accessible on its Internet site (http://www.echr.coe.int). Press contacts Emma Hellyer (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 90 21 42 15) Stéphanie Klein (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 88 41 21 54) Tracey Turner-Tretz (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 88 41 35 30) Paramy Chanthalangsy (telephone: 00 33 (0)3 90 21 54 91) The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe Member States in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. 1 Under Article 43 of the Convention, within three months from the date of a Chamber judgment, any party to the case may, in exceptional cases, request that the case be referred to the 17-member Grand Chamber of the Court. In that event, a panel of five judges considers whether the case raises a serious question affecting the interpretation or application of the Convention or its protocols, or a serious issue of general importance, in which case the Grand Chamber will deliver a final judgment. If no such question or issue arises, the panel will reject the request, at which point the judgment becomes final. Otherwise Chamber judgments become final on the expiry of the three-month period or earlier if the parties declare that they do not intend to make a request to refer. 2 This summary by the Registry does not bind the Court. 6 PARTLY DISSENTING OPINION OF JUDGE LOUCAIDES http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=826734&portal=hbkm&sour ce=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649 Although I agree with the conclusions of the majority as regards the violations of the Convention set out in the operative part of the judgment, I cannot share their opinion that there has been no violation of Article 3 of the Convention in its substantive aspect as regards the alleged ill-treatment inflicted by police officers on the applicant. According to the applicant, she and other Roma women were rounded up by the police for a body search. Whilst the police operation was taking place, the applicant waited her turn to be searched by the police, who were searching other residents of the settlement. She noticed that certain police officers were taunting a disabled Rom who was a relative of hers. As she moved to approach the police officers, she was forcefully pushed back by one of them while another one kicked her in the back, in spite of the fact that she had shouted that she was pregnant. As a result of the kick, the applicant felt an intense pain in the abdominal area and started bleeding. Although the bleeding was obvious to all the police officers present, the applicant was not taken to hospital. Not having any personal documents – as she was at the time an unregistered stateless person – and being alone, she felt that she could not go to the hospital on her own for fear of being refused treatment. The next day she informed members of the Greek Helsinki Monitor that she had been kicked by a police officer and that she was bleeding. One of them then rushed her to a maternity clinic, where she was admitted immediately. According to the medical report drawn up at the end of the examination, “the applicant was admitted to the hospital on 29 January 2002, 10 weeks pregnant, with haemorrhaging from her uterus (risk of spontaneous abortion). On 2 February 2002 there was a complete expulsion of the foetus and on 4 February 2002 her uterus was cleaned.” On 1 February 2002 counsel for the applicant lodged a criminal complaint with the Athens public prosecutor against the police officer who had allegedly used violence against the applicant and whose identity was unknown to her. In the complaint the applicant joined the proceedings as a civil party seeking damages, asked to be examined by a forensic doctor and named three persons who could testify as witnesses. She also included the address and telephone numbers of her lawyers. The Court found that there had been a violation of Article 3 in its procedural aspect as regards the incident described by the applicant. On 3 July 2004, two years and five months after the complaint was lodged, the Athens public prosecutor closed the file without carrying out any further inquiries. In view of this substantial delay in the conduct of the preliminary inquiry, the Court rightly found that the Greek authorities could not be considered to have acted with sufficient promptness or with reasonable diligence, with the result that the perpetrator of alleged acts of violence had remained unidentified. As far as the administrative proceedings were concerned, the Court observed that despite the seriousness of the applicant's allegations, the authorities had not considered it necessary to conduct a sworn administrative inquiry. On the contrary, they had conducted an informal investigation that had ended in less than one day and had been carried out by the Deputy Director of Police, who had been actively involved in the police operation in question. It is apparent from the relevant report that the agent based his conclusions exclusively on the testimonies given by five police officers involved in the incident. Neither the applicant nor any of the other alleged victims of police brutality were examined. However, the majority considered that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that there had been a violation of Article 3 on account of the alleged torture. They based their finding on the following reasoning: 7 (a) The circumstances under which the bleeding from the applicant's uterus occurred were not entirely clear. (b) The medical report produced by the applicant only stated that she was bleeding and that she had suffered a miscarriage, without mentioning the existence of bruises or other injuries and without reference to any possible causes of the bleeding. (c) The applicant had not produced any other cogent evidence in support of her allegations of ill- treatment, such as objective eyewitness testimonies. The impression is given, by the reasoning of the majority, that the evidence of a victim of police ill- treatment is not enough to establish such ill-treatment, regardless of the credibility of such testimony. I cannot accept that approach, which I consider harks back to the early legal history of many countries when more than one witness was required to establish anything in judicial proceedings. The approach of the majority is very dangerous in the sense that it may cause injustice to individuals like the applicant, whose evidence may not by itself be taken seriously because of police prejudice as regards their status (see paragraphs 64-66 of the judgment); at the same time, it may encourage the police to use unacceptable methods of investigation amounting to ill-treatment in respect of persons like the applicant or other persons who do not have any eyewitnesses to corroborate their complaints of ill-treatment. The applicant stated her complaint in a coherent and convincing manner. She explained that she had been kicked on her back and as a result had felt an intense pain in the abdominal area and started bleeding. There followed a miscarriage. She could not identify the police officer who had kicked her. That is understandable. What I cannot understand is why the majority did not believe her story, without even finding a concrete well-founded reason why she must have lied. In fact the evidence does not disclose any such reason. The fact that the medical report produced by the applicant made no reference to bruises and to any possible causes of the bleeding does not detract from the truthfulness of the applicant's complaint, bearing in mind that the report in question was prepared by a gynaecologist and not by a forensic doctor. Moreover, the inadequacy and ineffectiveness of the police investigation of the applicant's complaint, as set out above, does not amount only to a violation of the procedural aspect of the complaint in question. In my opinion it amounts also to a strong corroboration of the same complaint in its substantive aspect. For the attitude of the police could not be explained as anything other than an effort to cover up the guilty behaviour of one of their colleagues. In the light of the above, I believe that the applicant's version of events is true and I therefore consider beyond any doubt that there has been a violation of Article 3 in its substantive aspect. 8
"PART I Miscarriage"