Iwanczuk v. Poland (Application no. 25196/94)

Key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.


54. In the present case the applicant wished to avail himself of his basic right, the right to vote in parliamentary elections, in the election room arranged for that purpose within the confines of the prison. The Court considers that it is doubtful whether the exercise of this right by persons detained on remand should be subject to any special conditions other than those dictated by normal requirements of prison security. In any event, the Court does not find, on the facts of the case, that it was justified that such conditions should include an order to strip naked in front of a group of prison guards.
56. The Court further considers that, given the applicant’s personality, his peaceful behaviour during the entire period of his detention, the fact that he was not charged with a violent crime and had no previous criminal record, it has not been shown that there were grounds on which to fear that he would behave violently. Consequently, it has not been shown that the order of body search was indeed justified.
58. Against the above background, the Court observes that the applicant was ordered to strip naked in front of a group of prison guards. No compelling reasons have been adduced to find that this order was, in the light of the applicant’s personality and all the other circumstances of the case, necessary and justified by security reasons.
59. In addition, whilst strip searches may be necessary on occasions to ensure prison security or prevent disorder in prisons, they must be conducted in an appropriate manner. In the present case, the prison’s guards verbally abused and derided the applicant. Their behaviour was intended to cause in the applicant feelings of humiliation and inferiority. This, in the Court’s view, showed a lack of respect for the applicant’s human dignity. Given that such treatment was afforded to a person who, as stated above, wished to exercise his right to vote within the framework of arrangements specially provided for in Wrocław prison for persons detained on remand, and in view of the absence of persuasive justification therefor, the Court is of the view that in the present case such behaviour which humiliated and debased the applicant, amounted to degrading treatment contrary to Article 3.
60. Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.


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