Skorupa v. Poland (Application no. 44153/15)

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


266. The applicant was a vulnerable individual, firstly, because he was in custody and, secondly, because he was inebriated. As soon as he was placed in the locked cell, he no longer posed any threat to the police officers. Moreover, since the cell was completely bare and the applicant had, by that time, visibly calmed down, it cannot reasonably be argued that keeping him handcuffed ensured his own safety. As the cell’s doors were barred, the police officers could easily, and indeed did, monitor the applicant’s behaviour inside the cell.

267. The Court also observes that the applicant’s position – lying flat on the floor, either on his stomach or on his side, as his arms were handcuffed behind back – increased his vulnerability and was likely to cause the applicant to feel humiliated. Having the applicant in that position highlighted his own inferiority and the superiority of the State agents (compare with Bouyid, cited above, § 106). In view of the applicant’s inebriation, M.T.’s decision not to sit him on the chair cannot be contested. Conversely, sitting the applicant on the floor against the wall was not a viable option because the applicant had his arms handcuffed behind his back. In this way, forcing the applicant into a horizontal position would likely have caused him a feeling of arbitrary treatment, injustice and powerlessness (ibid.). The applicant’s feeling of humiliation in his own eyes (ibid., § 105) was likely made worse by the fact that he was seen in this inherently debasing position by numerous employees of the police station who passed in front of his cell, especially around the time of the change of shifts.

270. Given that the applicant did not demonstrate that he had undergone serious physical or mental suffering, the treatment in question cannot be described as inhuman or, a fortiori, torture. The Court therefore finds that the present case involved degrading treatment (see, mutatis mutandis, Bouyid, cited above, § 112, and compare with Polanowski v. Poland, no. 16381/05, § 56, 27 April 2010).

271. The Court holds that there has been a violation of the substantive limb of Article 3 on account of the fact that by keeping the applicant – a vulnerable individual – on the floor with his arms handcuffed behind his back for an hour, the authorities subjected the applicant, who was under their complete control, to degrading treatment.


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