Tech & Rights

Degrading Treatment in Czech Deportation Case

The use of tear gas, handcuffs and a luggage trolley constituted degrading treatment against a Cameroonian man being deported by Czech police.

by The League of Human Rights
The Czech Constitutional Court almost never rules on prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, as cases of confirmed violations are extremely rare. One such case was recently closed.

A citizen of Cameroon, who was to be deported in June 2014 from the Czech Republic back to his homeland, not only learned about the planned flight only a day ahead, but was forcibly escorted by police to the airport using gas and physical force.

Without saying goodbye

The man, who lived in the Czech Republic since 2010, was detained in May 2014 for the purpose of expulsion to his country of origin. Since May 2013, he had been staying in the Czech Republic without a valid residence permit.

In June 2014, police secured a seat for him on a flight out of Prague three days later. He learned about this flight only a day before departure.

That morning a police escort came to take him to the airport. He refused to submit voluntarily, arguing that his departure had not been announced in advance and he could not therefore say goodbye to his Czech girlfriend, have his belongings gathered from his apartment, or inform family of his arrival in Cameroon.

Coercive means

He resisted passively and it became impossible to get him out of the room even by force. The police then used tear gas in the closed room.

This made the man disoriented and he was quickly handcuffed and taken to the airport. The police even used a luggage cart to transport him through part of the terminal.

But the captain of the aircraft on which the man was supposed to travel refused to admit him aboard. According to the pilot, the man represented a risk to the flight.

The man was then taken back to the detention facility for foreigners. In a subsequent process in July, he was deported back to Cameroon.

Lack of interest

The man filed suit against the Czech police. The initial investigation of the General Inspection of Security Forces (GIBS) found no criminal offense by the police and put the inquiry on hold. The use of force against the complainant was, according to the GIBS, entirely reasonable.

The complainant then filed a constitutional complaint against the GIBS for its cursory work. The Constitutional Court review the case and the investigation and found that there had been a violation of the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment, both by the police and the GIBS proceedings.

Although the court did not find violations in all stages of the police proceedings, it stressed that the police erred when officers did not inform the complainant sufficiently about the trip and did not allow him to prepare for it.

That error likely contributed to the creation of the physical confrontation and use of tear gas. Considering this, the use of tear gas, handcuffs and the luggage trolley constituted degrading treatment against the man, the court found.

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