Tali v. Estonia (Application no. 66393/10)

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


78. As regards the legitimacy of the use of pepper spray against the applicant, the Court refers to the concerns expressed by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the CPT”) in respect of the use of such agents in law enforcement. According to the CPT pepper spray is a potentially dangerous substance and should not be used in confined spaces; if exceptionally it needs to be used in open spaces, there should be clearly defined safeguards in place. Pepper spray should never be deployed against a prisoner who has already been brought under control (see İzci v. Turkey, no. 42606/05, §§ 40-41, 23 July 2013, and Ali Güneş v. Turkey, no. 9829/07, §§ 39-40, 10 April 2012; see also paragraph 52 above). The Court also notes that although pepper spray is not considered a chemical weapon and its use is authorised for the purpose of law enforcement, it can produce effects such as respiratory problems, nausea, vomiting, irritation of the respiratory tract, irritation of the tear ducts and eyes, spasms, chest pain, dermatitis and allergies. In strong doses it may cause necrosis of the tissue in the respiratory or digestive tract, pulmonary oedema or internal haemorrhaging (haemorrhaging of the adrenal gland) (see Ali Güneş, cited above, §§ 37-38, with further reference to Oya Ataman v. Turkey, no. 74552/01, §§ 17-18, ECHR 2006‑XIII; see also İzci, cited above, § 35, and paragraph 51 above). Having regard to these potentially serious effects of the use of pepper spray in a confined space on the one hand and the alternative equipment at the disposal of the prison guards, such as flak jackets, helmets and shields on the other, the Court finds that the circumstances did not justify the use of pepper spray.


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