McCann and Others v. the United Kingdom (Application No. 18984/91)

A selection of key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.

148. The Court considers that the exceptions delineated in paragraph 2 (art. 2-2) indicate that this provision (art. 2-2) extends to, but is not concerned exclusively with, intentional killing. As the Commission has pointed out, the text of Article 2 (art. 2), read as a whole, demonstrates that paragraph 2 (art. 2-2) does not primarily define instances where it is permitted intentionally to kill an individual, but describes the situations where it is permitted to “use force” which may result, as an unintended outcome, in the deprivation of life. The use of force, however, must be no more than “absolutely necessary” for the achievement of one of the purposes set out in sub-paragraphs (a), (b) or (c) (art. 2-2-a, art. 2-2-b, art. 2-2-c) (see application no. 10044/82, Stewart v. the United Kingdom, 10 July 1984, Decisions and Reports 39, pp. 169-71).

149. In this respect the use of the term “absolutely necessary” in Article 2 para. 2 (art. 2-2) indicates that a stricter and more compelling test of necessity must be employed from that normally applicable when determining whether State action is “necessary in a democratic society” under paragraph 2 of Articles 8 to 11 (art. 8-2, art. 9-2, art. 10-2, art. 11-2) of the Convention. In particular, the force used must be strictly proportionate to the achievement of the aims set out in sub-paragraphs 2 (a), (b) and (c) of Article 2 (art. 2-2-a-b-c).

150. In keeping with the importance of this provision (art. 2) in a democratic society, the Court must, in making its assessment, subject deprivations of life to the most careful scrutiny, particularly where deliberate lethal force is used, taking into consideration not only the actions of the agents of the State who actually administer the force but also all the surrounding circumstances including such matters as the planning and control of the actions under examination.