Assenov v Bulgaria

28 October 1998

Facts: Police arrested a teenage boy, Anton Assenov, for gambling in the town square. He was taken to a nearby bus station, where his father later arrived. The boy and his father were taken to the police station and detained for two hours before they were released. During this time the police allegedly beat the boy with truncheons and pummeled him in the stomach. Throughout the following two years, the family filed complaints with various criminal investigatory agencies without success.

Article 3 (right to be free from inhuman treatment and adequacy of the investigation): violation

The Court considered that the medical evidence, Mr Assenov's testimony, the fact that he was detained for two hours, the lack of witness of Mr Ivanov beating his son to cause the reported bruising, raised a reasonable suspicion that these injuries might have been caused by the police.

The Court considered that where an individual raises an arguable claim that he had been seriously ill-treated by State agents in breach of Article 3, that provision, read together with the State's Article 1 duty to "secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms in [the] Convention", implicitly required an effective official investigation, capable of leading to the identification and punishment of those responsible. The Court assessed the investigation in the light of the above criteria finding that it was insufficient and ineffective for the purposes of Article 3.

Article 13 (right to an effective remedy): violation

The Court found a violation of this Article for the same reasons it found a breach of Article 3.

  • The full text of the judgment is available here.
  • The ERRC’s third-party intervention can be found here.


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