Girl Who Watched Father's Violent Arrest Had Human Rights Violated, Court Rules: 'Watching Your Loved One Being Tortured Is Also Torture'

A 9-year-old girl who witnessed her father being beaten while he was arrested by Russian police has been awarded damages, after a court ruled she had been tortured during the incident.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said the child was left traumatized after witnessing the officers repeatedly kick her father while trying to detain him in the Russian town of Apsheronsk.

In their ruling, the ECHR said the police did not attempt to prevent the girl from witnessing the violent arrest, which amounted to ill-treatment. The girl was later diagnosed with a neurological disorder, enuresis and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The court unanimously declared that there had been two violations of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman treatment as punishment.

"This ruling is important not only for Russia but also other Council of Europe countries," Olga Sadovskaya, a lawyer with Russia's Committee Against Torture, told daily newspaper Kommersant.

"This case allowed us to confirm that watching your loved one being tortured is also torture, or at least violence."

The incident took place in May 2008. The child's father, who was a police officer at the time, was arrested outside the girl's school as part of an undercover operation by the Federal Service for Drug Control (FSKN) unit.

The girl said she saw the police officers knock her father to the ground and repeatedly kick him in the torso.

Russian authorities then investigated the father's arrest but ruled no physical force had been carried out and that no criminal inquiry was needed. However, the investigation relied on statements from the FSKN officers involved in the arrest and the detention facility he was taken to, which reported no injuries.

The internal inquiry also dismissed a witness statement from an electrician who said he saw the beating on the basis he was an alleged drug user and therefore "unreliable."

The court said the lack of bruising on the father's body could also be attributed to the officers possibly wearing trainers at the time of the undercover operation and not "army-type boots" usually worn by police.

"The Court found that the applicant's [child's] allegation that she had witnessed her father's arrest, which had involved him being beaten, was credible," the ECHR said.

"The law-enforcement officers, who had been well aware that the applicant was on the scene of the operation, had proceeded without paying any attention to her presence, thus exposing her to a scene of violence against her father in the absence of any resistance on his part.

"That had very severely affected her and, in the Court's view, had amounted to a failure on the part of the authorities to prevent her ill-treatment."

The father was arrested on suspicion of selling cannabis. However, the case was dropped in 2009 after it had emerged evidence against him had been illegally obtained.

The court ruled Russia must pay the €25,000 ($27,500) in damages and a further €3,500 for costs and expenses to the daughter.

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(File photo) Russian riot police detain an opposition activist during a protest rally in central Moscow on November 5, 2017. A child who saw her father’s violent arrest was tortured by police, a court has ruled. MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP/Getty
Girl Who Watched Father's Violent Arrest Had Human Rights Violated, Court Rules: 'Watching Your Loved One Being Tortured Is Also Torture' | World