Press Release No: Individual Application 70/20

Press Release concerning the Judgment Finding a Violation of the Prohibition of Ill-treatment due to the Failure to Prosecute the Police Officers Allegedly Battered the Applicant

On 9 July 2020, the Second Section of the Constitutional Court found a violation of the prohibition of ill-treatment, safeguarded by Article 17 of the Constitution, in the individual application lodged by Tahir Baykuşak (no. 2016/31718).

The Facts

The applicant, a teacher, was stopped by the police officers for an identity check. Meanwhile, an argument occurred between the police officers and the applicant. The applicant was first taken by the police officers to the hospital where a temporary report was issued indicating that there was no sign of assault on his body. Afterwards, the applicant was taken to the police station where the parties complained about each other.

The applicant, claiming that the said report had been issued without his being examined, was referred to the hospital upon his own request. The report issued after his examination stated that there were bruises on various parts of his body. As for the report issued by the Forensic Medicine Institute, it stated that the applicant’s injury resulting in soft tissue lesions did not put the applicant’s life in danger and might be treated with simple medical intervention.

Within the scope of the investigation, the parties’ statements were taken, and CCTV footages were examined; however, it was noted that no relevant images could be obtained due to the camera angle.

The law-enforcement officers, having issued a report, submitted the file to the prosecutor’s office. Despite being recorded as the complainant in this report, the relevant police officer was considered as the suspect of intentional injury by the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office did not take the statements of the parties.

It then issued a decision of non-prosecution with respect to the suspected police officer for intentional injury. The applicant’s challenge against the decision was dismissed by the magistrate judge with no right of appeal.

The Applicant’s Allegations

The applicant claimed that the prohibition of ill-treatment was violated, stating that he had been subjected to physical coercion by the law enforcement officers during an identity check and that upon his complaint in this regard, a decision of non-prosecution was issued.

The Court’s Assessment

The State is obliged to protect the corporeal and spiritual existence of the individuals from any danger, threat and violence. This obligation requires the State to take measures to prevent individuals from being subjected to torture and ill-treatment or to a punishment or treatment incompatible with human dignity.

The applicant claimed that after he had given his identity card to the police officers, one of them battered him after an argument. In his statement, the applicant gave the names of three persons whom he believed to have witnessed the incident; however, the prosecutor’s office did not take the statements of the relevant persons.

The decision of non-prosecution issued by the public prosecutor’s office contained no reasoning as to why the statements of the relevant witnesses had not been taken. The findings of injury in the forensic examination reports as well as the statements of witnesses, who had given statements before the court within the scope of the criminal case initiated against the applicant due to the same incident, support the allegations that the applicant had been subjected to physical assault by the police officers.

Given the circumstances of the incident, it has been determined that the treatment of the law enforcement officers against the applicant at the time of departure from school, which could also be witnessed by his colleagues, had attained a certain threshold of severity, and thus the minimum threshold of severity required by the Constitution had been exceeded.

In addition, although it was stated in the first medical report issued in respect of the applicant that there was no sign of assault on the applicant’s body, the subsequent report that was issued on the same day upon the applicant’s request stated that there were ecchymosis and abrasions on his body. There is no information or document in the investigation file indicating that an investigation was launched against the relevant doctor for the applicant’s complaint in question.

Considering that the prosecutor's office failed to take the statements of the witnesses to reveal the circumstances of the incident as well as the material fact, that the contradictions in the police report could not be resolved, and that no investigation was launched against the relevant doctor, it has been concluded that the investigation into the incident was not conducted thoroughly and effectively.

Consequently, the Court has found violations of both procedural and substantive aspects of the prohibition of ill-treatment safeguarded by Article 17 of the Constitution.

This press release prepared by the General Secretariat intends to inform the public and has no binding effect.