European Court finds a violation of Article 3 (MS v UK)

The European Court of Human Rights has unanimously found that the detention of a mentally ill man in a police cell for over three days violated his rights under Article 3. The issue before the Court was whether the authorities fulfilled their obligation to protect the applicant, MS, from treatment contrary to Article 3.


The Court has found that the applicant was in a state of great vulnerability throughout the entire time at the police station, as manifested by the abject condition to which he quickly descended inside his cell. He was in dire need of appropriate psychiatric treatment, as each of the medical professionals who examined him indicated. The Court considered that this situation, which persisted until he was at last transferred to Reaside Clinic early on the fourth day of his detention, diminished excessively his fundamental human dignity.


The authorities were therefore under an obligation to safeguard his dignity, and are responsible under the Convention for the treatment he experienced. The Court found that the conditions which the applicant was required to endure were an affront to human dignity and reached the threshold of degrading treatment for the purposes of Article 3.

Aswini Weereratne and Kate Annand were instructed by Peter Carlin of Peter Edwards on behalf of the appellant.

To view the judgment in full please click here.

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