European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Moldova: Women political activists await court judgement in general election human rights complaint

Next week, judges will publish their decision on a complaint from two Moldovan women activists, stripped naked and forced to exercise after being arrested by police.

The European Court of Human Rights judgement in the case O.R. and L.R. v. the Republic of Moldova (no. 24129/11) is scheduled to be announced on 30 October.

The case concerns the investigation into the allegation by the applicants O.R. and L.R., that they were forced to strip naked and do sit-ups by the police when arrested in the context of wide-scale unrest in Moldova in 2009.

The applicants were arrested on 7 April 2009 following protests by hundreds of young people in Moldova against the general elections.

They allege that they were taken to Chişinău police headquarters and, along with others, were ordered to face the wall. Those who looked to the side were hit. They heard the sounds of people being beaten in an adjacent room.

After signing their arrest record under threat, an officer escorted them to another room. Two officers ordered them to undress and do sit-ups. They were eventually released on 13 April 2009.

Soon after there were reports in the press about the incident, and there was an internal investigation during which the applicants were interviewed.

Nine months later the prosecuting authorities launched a criminal investigation into three police officers. In 2013 two of the officers, who had ordered them to undress, were convicted of psychologically ill-treating the applicants and given a five-year suspended sentence.

In the meantime, the prosecutor had discontinued the criminal investigation against the escorting officer, finding that his actions could not qualify as torture.

Furthermore, the officer had clearly exceeded his powers but this was an administrative offence which was already time-barred.

The applicants’ appeals against these decisions were all unsuccessful.

Throughout the proceedings none of the three officers were suspended from their duties.

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment), the applicants allege that the investigation into their ill-treatment was ineffective and that the police officers involved were able to act with impunity.

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