Bouyid v. Belgium: One Slap Not Enough


In the case of Bouyid v. Belgium, the applicants, Saïd Bouyid and Mohamed Bouyid, are two brothers who are Belgian nationals, rely on Articles 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights in their complaint against the police of the local police station.  The two brothers are bringing this complaint before the Grand Chamber because the Court in its Chamber judgment on November 21, 2013  did not punish Belgium for two separate incidents where police officers slapped the two brothers, where one was a minor, in the face during police questioning in relation to trivial affairs.  In it’s Chamber judgment, the Court ruled that a one time slap in the face did not meet the threshold of applicability of Article 3.

The two brothers live with their family in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode in Brussels. They live right next to the local police station.  The family apparently has a history of dispute with the officers of that local police station. The first of the two incidents where the slapping occurred involves the younger brother, Saïd Bouyid, 17 years 0ld. Around 4 P.M., he was talking to his friend in front of his house.  He had forgotten his house keys so he rang the doorbell for his parents to open the door.  Then, a police officer in civilian clothing approached Bouyid and asked him to identify himself. Bouyid refused to do so and instead asked for the officer’s identification.  The officer did not show any proof of identification, grabbed Bouyid by his jacket and took him down to the station. The officer claimed he did not know who Bouyid was and that he did not know that Bouyid was just trying to get inside his home. Bouyid was kept in a room in the police station with the arresting officer, which is when Bouyid was slapped for protesting against his arrest.
The second incident involved Mohamed Bouyid. Mohamed and his mother were in an argument with a third party in front of their home. When all parties involved were brought to the station, Mohamed alleges that he was slapped in the face after being asked by the officer to remove his elbows from the interrogation table.
This case was referred to the Grand Chamber on March 24, 2014 at the request of the two brothers. The Court will hold a hearing on October 8, 2014.
Do you think the Court got it right here? Was the one time slap really not enough for Article 3 to apply? How do you think this case will turn out?
Source: ECHR
Image: Google

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