Case of Geylani and Others v. Türkiye, (Application no. 10443/12)

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgment.


85. In this regard, the Court observes that the Government did not seek to argue that there existed at the time of the events clear and adequate instructions regulating the use of water cannon, but instead referred to the general domestic legal framework concerning the use of force by the police (see paragraphs 42-44 above). However, beyond listing water cannon as one of the means which could be used by police officers as part of “material force”, the domestic legal framework lacked any specific provisions on the use of water cannons during demonstrations, and did not lay down instructions for their deployment.

86. Admittedly, according to the applicable domestic law, the equipment and the degree of force to be used had to be determined by the supervisor of the intervening unit in the context of demonstrations (see paragraph 43 above). The evidence before the Court suggests that this was the case in the circumstances of the present application, since it appears that the police officers received orders to intervene and were thus not acting independently (see paragraph 24 above). However, there is nothing to indicate that the police officers or the supervisors of the intervening units took the necessary precautions concerning, for instance, the appropriate distance and water pressure in order to prevent or at least minimise the risk of serious injury such as that sustained by the second applicant. […]

87. The Court further refers to the considerations outlined below concerning the effectiveness of the investigation into the matter, and notes that the domestic authorities failed to make a specific assessment concerning the important characteristics of the force at issue, such as the exact distance from which the pressurised water was sprayed, the angle of spraying and the level of water pressure (see paragraphs 94-96 below).

88. In view of the above, it has not been demonstrated that the recourse to force at issue was made strictly necessary by the second applicant’s own conduct or was indispensable for the purpose of quelling mass disorder. Consequently, the State is responsible, under Article 3 of the Convention, for the injuries sustained by the second applicant.

89. There has accordingly been a violation of that provision in its substantive limb.

116. The Court observes that it is not disputed between the parties that the applicants did not engage in acts of violence. As to the conduct of the other demonstrators, the Court notes that one police officer reported that he had been injured by a stone thrown by the demonstrators before the police intervention (see paragraph 19 above). Furthermore, the video footage shows that at least three adolescents among the demonstrators threw stones at the security forces when the group was heading towards the main road before the beginning of the march (see paragraph 39 above). The Court notes, however, that some of the demonstrators reacted against this behaviour and that, more importantly, the vast majority of the demonstrators were not involved in any violent acts during the period before the intervention of the police (ibid.). As to the damaged vehicles, there is nothing to indicate that the damage in question occurred before the intervention of the police (see paragraph 21 above). Therefore, having viewed the video footage and examined all the evidence in the case file, the Court considers that despite certain sporadic violent acts involving the throwing of stones – which were not committed by the applicants – the demonstration was mainly of a peaceful character before the intervention of the police.

128. The Court accepts that the organisers of the demonstration at issue failed to comply with the regulations in force at the material time (see Eğitim ve Bilim Emekçileri Sendikası and Others, cited above, § 108). However, taking into account the authorities’ impatience in seeking to disperse the march and the manner in which the force was used, the Court considers that the intervention of the police was disproportionate and not necessary in a democratic society.

129. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 11 of the Convention.


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