Resolution of the European Court of Human Rights dated July 19, 2018 in the case of Hovhannisyan v. Armenia (application No. 18419/13).
In 2013, the applicant was assisted in the preparation of the application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to Armenia.
The case was successfully considered a application about the failure to conduct an effective investigation of complaints of degrading treatment in the workplace. In the case of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant is a civil servant and works at the Ministry of the Environment. According to her, she argued with her boss in his office regarding the appraisal report submitted by the applicant. The head of the applicant and his deputy attacked the applicant, grabbed her hands, insulted her and snatched the conclusion from her. As a result of the attack, the applicant lost consciousness, sustained bodily injuries, numerous abrasions on her hands, and also felt humiliated.
The applicant reported the incident to the head of the personnel department of the Ministry of the Environment and the police. The police investigator decided to conduct a forensic examination of the applicant, interrogated her and took evidence from the applicant’s management and from her colleagues. The examination confirmed that the applicant had abrasions on her hands. However, all the testimony of the applicant’s colleagues at work, who were subordinates to the alleged injurers, denied the version of the events as presented by the applicant. Based on these testimonies and the instructions of the prosecutor, the investigator refused to initiate a criminal case. The applicant unsuccessfully appealed the relevant decision.
QUESTIONS OF LAW
Regarding compliance with Article 3 of the Convention (procedural aspect). The applicant submitted a complaint of degrading treatment, subject to proof, which reached the minimum level of cruelty required by Article 3 of the Convention. However, the investigation was never launched, and an internal audit was not conducted at the Ministry of the Environment. During the pre-investigation check, the authorities of the respondent state did not make any serious attempts to establish what really happened. For example, no action was taken to take evidence from the applicant's colleagues under oath in order to eliminate the problems associated with the fact that the witnesses were subordinates of the alleged perpetrators. It was not established how the applicant was injured, under what circumstances it happened, and whether the injuries were related to the incident in question. In addition, no efforts were made to resolve doubts about certain inconsistencies in the testimony of the applicant’s supervisor or to check whether these readings were true. Also, neither the head of the personnel department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, nor any other state officials took any measures until the applicant contacted the police. Taking into account the aforementioned deficiencies, in the opinion of the European Court, the authorities of the respondent State did not conduct a proper investigation into the applicants' complaints of ill-treatment.
The case was a violation of the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention (adopted unanimously).
In application of Article 41 of the Convention. The European Court awarded the applicant EUR 3,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.