On the 17th of January 2023, the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its ruling in Daraibou v. Croatia, application no. 84523/17. The case concerned a Moroccan applicant, Daraibou, who was detained in a Croatian police station together with three other migrants. One of them supposedly set fire which caused death of three migrants and serious injuries to the applicant. During this tragic incident, two guards were responsible for surveillance. One of them faced disciplinary sanctions, but no criminal proceedings were initiated. On the contrary, Croatia started criminal proceedings against the applicant, which was stopped as the applicant was expelled to Morocco. The applicant complained of Article 2 ECHR violations because Croatia did not prevent the fire outbreak resulting in his severe life-threatening injuries and lack of effective investigation into the incident. The ECtHR noted that the obligation to protect the health and well-being of persons in detention included the obligation to protect life from a foreseeable danger. The Court stated that the police should have taken certain basic precautions regarding the persons in custody to minimise potential risks of grave incidents such as the one in the present case. The ECtHR found that serious shortcomings in how the detainees were monitored during their stay in the police station, e.g. video surveillance had not been used all the time and the responsible officers left their duty station preventing them to stop the initiation of the fire. The Court added that the police station and its personnel were ill-prepared to deal with a fire outbreak on their premises. Accordingly, the Court found a violation of Article 2 in its substantive aspect. The ECtHR then declared that the procedural aspect of the right to life was also violated. It mentioned that a sufficient investigation was necessary to establish the circumstances of the incident and to determine the responsibility of the authorities. The ECtHR noted that the authorities’ initial reaction to the incident was prompt, nonetheless, the investigation has not been thorough. Domestic proceedings only concerned the existence of possible criminal or disciplinary liability of individual police officers but did not deal with a more comprehensive question of whether there had been broader institutional shortcomings or errors which allowed for the tragic incident to occur. A comprehensive investigation may lead to remedying potential deficiencies and preventing similar errors in the future.
ECtHR: Croatia violated Article 2 by failing to protect lives of detained migrants and properly investigate fire in detention facility
17 Jan 2023 | News