Information Note on the Court’s case-law 185
Ilievska v. "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" - 20136/11
Judgment 7.5.2015 [Section I] See:  ECHR 469
Handcuffing of patient on her way to a psychiatric hospital: violation
Facts - The applicant underwent cancer surgery and chemotherapy in April 2009. In October 2009 her husband called for medical assistance as she was suffering from anxiety and distress. On the advice of medical practitioners the applicant was transferred to a psychiatric clinic in Skopje with the assistance of two police officers. The applicant alleged that, during the journey to the hospital her hands were handcuffed behind her back, she was forcibly made to lie on a bed in the ambulance with a police officer sitting on her legs and she was hit, punched and threatened. She brought criminal charges inter alia against the two police officers for ill-treatment, but they were acquitted for lack of evidence. The applicant’s allegations were contested by the Government.
Law - Article 3: The Court could not establish beyond reasonable doubt that the injuries to the applicant’s back, stomach and legs had been inflicted by the police officers during the transfer. However, given medical evidence confirming the presence of haematomas on the applicant’s wrists and the Government’s lack of explanation for those injuries, the Court accepted that the applicant had been handcuffed. In considering whether the handcuffing had been justified, it noted that at the material time the applicant was suffering from an episode of mental distress of which the police officers were aware. She was clearly under the control of the police during the transfer and was vulnerable due to her psychological state and resulting medical needs. In addition, she was physically weak after recent cancer surgery and chemotherapy. The Court assumed - in reliance on the Government’s statements regarding the applicant’s tendency to self-harm - that the handcuffing had been aimed at preventing the applicant from harming herself. However, it noted that the issue of the proportionality of the handcuffing had not been considered in the domestic proceedings. The Government had failed to show that no other, less stringent, measures and precautions had been available. As a result, the handcuffing had amounted to degrading treatment.
Conclusion: violation (unanimously).
Article 41: EUR 5,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
© Council of Europe/European Court of Human Rights
This summary by the Registry does not bind the Court.
Click here for the Case-Law Information Notes