Van der Ven v. the Netherlands (50901/99)

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


61. In the present case, the Court is struck by the fact that the applicant was subjected to the weekly strip-search in addition to all the other strict security measures within the EBI [Extra Beveiligde Inrichting]. In view of the fact that the domestic authorities, through the reports drawn up by the Psychological Department of their Penitentiary Selection Centre, were well aware that the applicant was experiencing serious difficulties coping with the regime, and bearing in mind that at no time during the applicant’s stay in the EBI did it appear that anything untoward was found in the course of a strip-search, the Court is of the view that the systematic strip-searching of the applicant required more justification than has been put forward by the Government in the present case.

62. The Court considers that in a situation where the applicant was already subjected to a great number of surveillance measures, and in the absence of convincing security needs, the practice of weekly strip-searches that was applied to the applicant for a period of approximately three and a half years diminished his human dignity and must have given rise to feelings of anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing him. The applicant himself confirmed that this was indeed the case in a meeting with a psychiatrist, during which he also stated that he would, for instance, forgo visiting the hairdresser’s so as not to have to undergo a strip-search (see paragraph 25 above).

63. Accordingly, the Court concludes that the combination of routine strip-searching and the other stringent security measures in the EBI amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention. There has thus been a violation of this provision.


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