On 6 October 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment on BÜ. v. the Czech Republic (application no. 9264/15), concerning a Turkish national who was detained and expelled to Türkiye. The applicant arrived at Prague airport on 16 October 2013 and was taken into custody for the purposes of his administrative expulsion proceedings. He was issued a decision on his expulsion, as well as a prohibition on re-entry and due to his aggressiveness, the applicant was placed in Bělá-Jezová Detention Centre for Foreigners under a strict regime. The applicant claimed that during his detention he was ill-treated by the authorities and beaten with a truncheon, kicked and teargassed. The applicant claimed that Article 3 of the Convention had been violated, referring to both ill-treatment at the airport and in the detention centre and the resulting investigative proceedings. He also complained under Article 13 that he had no effective domestic remedy to assert his claims of ill-treatment.

The ECtHR firstly noted that where the use of force is involved during an arrest, the Court’s task is to review whether the force was strictly necessary and proportionate in light of the circumstances. It furthermore noted that pepper spray was used against the applicant as opposed to tear gas, which was used after other manual control techniques were not effective. The Court found relevant that the examining doctor in the airport and at the hospital did not mention any ill effects of the spray and the Court found that the use of the pepper spray in the circumstances was not disproportionate or unlawful.

The Court subsequently considered that at the time of the incidents at the airport, it was not possible for the authorities to know that the applicant was in a vulnerable condition due to a psychosocial disorder. It furthermore acknowledged that despite the differing submissions as to how the applicant’s injuries were caused, the Czech government provided a plausible explanation and produced appropriate evidence in this regard. It thereby found that it was unable to conclude beyond all reasonable doubt that the use of physical force to restrain the applicant was excessive.

The Court therefore concluded that there had not been a violation of the substantive aspect of Article 3 of the Convention and that there had been a violation of the procedural aspect of Article 3. In light of this, the Court found that no separate issues arose under Article 13 of the Convention.