The ECHR found a violation of the requirements of article 2 of the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Заголовок: The ECHR found a violation of the requirements of article 2 of the Convention for the protection of human ri Сведения: 2020-12-25 07:40:04

ECHR judgment of 30 June 2020 in the case " S. F. (S. F.) v. Switzerland "(aplication No. 23405/16).

in 2016, the applicant was assisted in the preparation of the aplication. The aplication was subsequently communicated to Switzerland.

The case successfully considered an aplication about the failure of police officers to prevent suicide committed by a vulnerable person left in solitary confinement without supervision for 40 minutes, as well as the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings against these police officers. The case violated the requirements of article 2 of the Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.




In 2014, the applicant's son D. F., while intoxicated and under the influence of antidepressants, was involved in an accident while driving his employer's car.

The police officers who arrived at the scene, R. B. and A. S., followed the standard procedure provided for this type of traffic accident. The applicant also arrived at the scene of the accident, she was called by her son, who expressed thoughts of suicide. Two police officers then took D. F. to the hospital for blood and urine samples. There D. F. again spoke of suicide. Police officers called the roadblock to warn of their arrival and call a doctor there. he was taken there in the presence of the applicant and was left in solitary confinement for 40 minutes without supervision. He committed suicide by hanging himself with his jeans tied to the ventilation grate.

The Prosecutor's office conducted a pre-investigation check. The relevant authorities concluded that there were no signs of crimes committed by police officers. For this reason, in 2015, at the request of the Prosecutor's office, the Supreme court of the Canton refused to give consent to the initiation of criminal proceedings. The Swiss Federal court dismissed the applicant's complaint against this refusal.




Regarding compliance with article 2 of the Convention (substantive aspect). (a) whether the authorities were aware of D. F.'s particular vulnerability and risk of suicide. At the scene, the A. S. police officer immediately discussed D. F.'s suicidal intentions with the applicant in order to take appropriate measures. A C. R. police officer at a roadblock was notified of the risk of committing suicide before D. F. arrived.

During his first contact with the police, D. F. behaved strangely, showing emotional dependence on his mother in a situation that caused him fear. He became guilty of a traffic accident under the influence of alcohol and medication. In addition, A. S. discussed with the applicant the possibility of D. F.'s hospitalization to assist him. Finally, at the roadblock, D. F. was placed in solitary confinement.

In an autopsy report, The Institute of forensic medicine (IRMZ) stated that solitary confinement, "current" thoughts of suicide, past suicide attempts, and "alcohol problems" were risk factors associated with suicide in custody, and that at least two of these occurred in the D. F. case.

The authorities knew, or should have known, at the time relevant to the circumstances of the case, that there was a risk that D. F. would attempt suicide and that there was a specific and immediate risk to his life. The authorities also had ample information about D. F.'s particular vulnerability, so they Must have concluded that he was undoubtedly required to be closely monitored.

(b) Lack of necessary measures to prevent the risk of suicide. The police officers took the usual precautions and security measures in the cell at the roadblock, seizing D. F.'s shoes, leather belt and chain, among other things, so that he would no longer have any objects with which he could strangle himself or otherwise injure himself. However, D. F. committed suicide in an unusual way. At the same time, there were five police officers at the roadblock, and surveillance of D. F. would have been possible in the applicant's presence in the office. In addition, the police officers did not fully analyze the possibility of placing D. F. in a cell equipped with a video surveillance system.

The authorities could not leave D. F. alone in the cell without supervision for 40 minutes without violating his right to life within the meaning of article 2 of the Convention. The authorities had the opportunity, with reasonable and not excessive efforts, to prevent the risk of D. F. committing suicide, of which they knew or should have known. The responsibility of the authorities followed from the fact that they treated D. F. as a person capable of coping with the stress and pressure experienced, without paying proper attention to his personal situation. Regardless of whether the police officers acted in compliance with all applicable standards in the given situation, the authorities of the Respondent state should be held responsible for the fact that they did not recognize D. F. as a person who required special treatment.




The case involved a violation of the requirements of article 2 of the Convention (adopted unanimously).

Regarding compliance with article 2 of the Convention (procedural and legal aspect). According to the Swiss Federal court, there had to be "minimal signs" of punishable conduct for the Canton's Supreme court to authorize a full-scale criminal investigation. The issuance of such a permit required the possibility of criminal prosecution to a lesser extent than that required for the investigation of the case. This is all the more true in relation to the Commission of serious crimes and, in particular, if the verdict in the case concerns cases of causing death.

In its analysis of the substantive aspect of article 2 of the Convention, the court concluded that the authorities of the Respondent state were responsible for the violation of D. F.'s right to life.

Neither the Supreme court of the Canton nor the Federal court of Switzerland referred to the IRMZ autopsy report, which identified the risk factors associated with suicide in custody, and in particular did not take into account the comments on the two criteria that occurred in the case of D. F.

IRMZ also pointed out that the best option was to call a psychiatric emergency rather than a simple doctor. The Swiss Federal court rejected the applicant's related argument and decided that the doctor's specialization was irrelevant, since the latter had arrived at the scene after D. F.'s death.However, the court found the applicant's argument that the psychiatrist could have given the police officers precise instructions over the phone in order to limit or even eliminate the risk of suicide sufficiently convincing. In this regard, it should be noted that the Swiss Federal court found this argument inappropriate, since the police officers and the doctor did not have direct contact with each other. However, the Court noted that Contracting States should organize their services and train their staff in such a way as to enable them to comply with the requirements of the Convention.

Finally, the minutes of the 2011 meeting of the state Council of the Canton recommend that persons with suicidal tendencies be placed in a cell designed for two people, or if necessary, constantly monitor them. It also appears to give preference to calling a psychiatrist as an emergency, although in some circumstances it does not exclude calling a regular ambulance doctor. In the case of D. F., these recommendations were not implemented.

Thus, the Court is not convinced that in the present case there were no "minimal signs" of punishable conduct on the part of the police officers who took part in the events that led to the death of D. F. Accordingly, it cannot be considered that the way in which the Swiss criminal justice system responded to the provable allegation of a violation of article 2 of the Convention in the situation under consideration in the present case, where the person expressed clear and repeated suicidal intentions, made it possible to fully hold state representatives accountable for the role they played in the relevant events. Consequently, the existing system has not been able to ensure the effective application of the provisions of Swiss law to protect the right to life, in particular the implementation of the intimidating function of criminal law.

Thus, in the situation of the special vulnerability of the applicant's son, there was no adequate protection from the " law " capable of protecting the right to life, as well as preventing in the future any similar actions that put life in danger.




The case involved a violation of the requirements of article 2 of the Convention (adopted unanimously).




In the application of article 41 of the Convention. The court awarded the applicant EUR 50,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 5,796 in respect of pecuniary damage.



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