In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Kukhalashvili and Others v. Georgia the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights in both its procedural and substantive aspects.
The case concerned the death of the applicants’ relatives during a police operation to quell a riot in a prison where they were being held.
The Court first of all found various failings in the authorities’ investigation into the circumstances in which an anti-riot force had put down disturbances in the prison, when the applicants’ relatives had been killed. For instance, the initial investigatory steps had been taken by the same institution, the prison department, which had ordered and executed the anti-riot measures.
The Court also found that while the law-enforcement officers might have been justified in deciding to use lethal force in the face of shots being fired by prisoners during the riot, the level of force used had not been absolutely necessary. That was shown, among other things, by the lack of proper planning of the law-enforcement response, the fact that the use of lethal force had been indiscriminate and excessive, and because the authorities had failed to provide adequate medical assistance to prisoners afterwards.
The Court held that Georgia was to pay 40 000 EUR jointly to the first and second applicants and EUR 32 000 to the third applicant in respect of non-pecuniary damage. It also held that Georgia was to pay EUR 5 400 to the first and second applicants jointly and EUR 3 400 to the third applicant in respect of costs and expenses.