ECHR: Lack of an Effective Investigation into the Death of a Detainee Violates the Convention
In 2003, the applicant’s daughter was detained pre-trial. The family informed the administration of the detention center about the woman’s medical problems. However, their concerns were not taken into consideration and, a couple of days after being placed in a detention center, the applicant’s daughter was transported to the hospital in serious condition. She died soon after. The proceedings against the detention center’s physician had been ongoing before Polish courts until December 2013 when they were discontinued at the appellate stage due to the expiry of the statute of limitations.
In her application, Ms. P. alleged that Polish authorities had violated her daughter’s right to life (art. 2 of the Convention), as they had not complied with an obligation to provide her daughter with proper medical care in the course of detention. “The applicant also claimed that procedural standards had been violated,” explains advocate Paweł Osik, the applicant’s co-counsel. “There were no timely and effective judicial proceedings in the case in order to establish the woman’s cause of death and punish those responsible,” he adds.
In the proceedings before the ECHR, the Polish government submitted a unilateral declaration in which it admitted that the applicant’s daughter had not been provided with proper medical care. The government also admitted that the lack of an effective investigation violated the Convention. The government pledged to pay 15 000 EUR in compensation.
„This is yet another case before the ECHR concerning article 2 of the Convention related to the lack of effective proceedings into the causes of death of the applicant’s relative,” says advocate Mikołaj Pietrzak. “I hope that both this decision and other ECHR decisions in similar cases will improve human rights standards in this matter,” advocate Mikołaj Pietrzak adds.
The case was conducted as part of the Strategic Litigation Program of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. Advocates Mikołaj Pietrzak and Paweł Osik represented the applicant pro bono in the proceedings both in national courts and before the ECHR.