ECHR court rules Turkish police violated convention on Human rights
The European court of Human rights ruled in the case of Ali Güneş v. Turkey, unanimously, that there was a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European convention on Human rights.
Ali Güneş was a high-school teacher who took part in a demonstration against the 2004 NATO summit in Istanbul. He was subject to ill-treatment by Turkish police, and pepper sprayed. The court concluded that there was no justification for the usage of tear gas against Ali Güneş, and that the police were negligent for not conducting an investigation in regard to his complaints.
In 2004, Ali Güneş participated in a demonstration against the NATO summit in Istanbul. He is a High-school teacher, and member of the Education and Science Worker’s Union and of the confederation of Public Workers’ Unions. On 28 June 2004, he was unarmed, and staged a peaceful demonstration with his colleagues. The police “grabbed him by the arms, sprayed him with tear gas and beat him up”. Afterwards, he was taken to a police station and kept for 11 hours.
On 7 September 2004, Ali Güneş brought proceeding against the police in regard to his ill-treatment during a peaceful demonstration. On 10 June 2004, the Turkish court ruled that an offence was not committed.
The European court of Human rights ruled, although tear gas is not recognised as a chemical weapon by the 1993 convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, and their destructions, there was concern in regard to its usage for law enforcement. The council of Europe’s committee for the prevention of Torture (CPT) has warned that the usage of tear-gas in confined spaces could be dangerous.
The court was in agreement with CPT that the usage of tear-gas against Ali Güneş was not justifiable. The court also noted that the unjustifiable usage of spraying gas into Ali Güneş’ face caused him both physical and mental suffering.
In light of Article 41, the Court held that Turkey was liable to pay Ali Güneş 10,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage and 1,500 euros for costs and expenses.