United Kingdom: Court ruling on Jean Charles de Menezes fatal police-shooting complaint

Human rights judges have ruled against a complaint from the cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes, who was involved in a police-shooting in the United Kingdom.

They decided that the criminal justice and prosecutorial system in the United Kingdom did not undermine the investigation into the 2005 fatal incident.

In this afternoon’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Armani Da Silva v. the United Kingdom (application no. 5878/08) the European Court of Human Rights held, by 13 votes to four, that there
had been:

no violation of Article 2 (right to life – investigation) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian national mistakenly identified by the police as a suicide bomber. Ms Armani Da Silva, who is Mr de Menezes’ cousin, complained that the state had not fulfilled its duty to ensure the accountability of its agents for his death because the ensuing investigation had not led to the prosecution of any individual police officer.

Having regard to the proceedings as a whole, the court found that the UK authorities had not failed in their obligations under Article 2 of the Convention to conduct an effective investigation into the shooting of Mr de Menezes which was capable of identifying and – if appropriate – punishing those responsible.

In particular, the court considered that all aspects of the authorities’ responsibility for the fatal shooting had been thoroughly investigated. Both the individual responsibility of the police officers involved and the institutional responsibility of the police authority had been considered in depth by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the criminal court and the Coroner and jury during the Inquest.

The decision not to prosecute any individual officer was not due to any failings in the investigation or the State’s tolerance of or collusion in unlawful acts; rather, it was due to the fact that, following a thorough investigation, a prosecutor had considered all the facts of the case and concluded that there was insufficient evidence against any individual officer to prosecute.

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