European & International News

European Court Of Human Rights condemns Spain for failture to investigate violence by police officers against prostituted woman

[Brussels, 30 July 2012] The European Court Of Human Rights (ECHR) on 24 July issued a ruling against Spain for failure to investigate alledged sexist and racist violence by police following complaints by a woman in prostitution.

The case concerned a prostituted woman of Nigerian origin who was stopped by the police on the outskirts of Palma de Mallorca. The Court found that the State had not conducted an adequate and effective investigation into her allegations of ill-treatment on two occasions when she was stopped and questioned in the street.

The Court ruled this was in violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment – lack
of an effective investigation) of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as in violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination).

The case was brought to the ECHR by Women’s Link Worldwide. Read their press release below:

The facts of this case date from July 2005, when Beauty Solomon, a woman of Nigerian descent, resident in Spain, was assaulted by national police officers in Palma de Mallorca.

While purporting to carry out an identity check, the officers struck her with a baton and shouted discriminatory insults such as “black slut.”

After exhausting domestic remedies, Women’s Link Worldwide brought the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2008 in light of the failure by all national courts to investigate the facts of the case. This week, the ECtHR condemned the Spanish State for violating Beauty Solomon’s right to be free from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment by failing to comply with the obligation to effectively investigate the racist and sexist violent acts alleged. This is the first decision by the ECtHR that recognizes the situation of extreme vulnerability of black women in Spain.

“The Court has condemned the discrimination by the police officers that assaulted and insulted Beauty Solomon as well as the failure of various Spanish courts to investigate her complaints. We are extremely happy for Beauty and are pleased that justice has been done. We hope that this decision will lead to the protection from violence and the prosecution of discrimination by the relevant authorities regardless of who the victim is” declared Viviana Waisman, Executive Director of Women’s Link.

In recognition of the suffering and humiliation that such violence and discrimination causes, the Court ordered Spain to pay Ms. Solomon 30,000 Euros in non-pecuniary damages. This is one of the largest sums awarded by the ECtHR in a case of police violence and discrimination.

Beauty Solomon said “I am very happy that finally justice had been done. I am grateful to Women’s Link. I hope this decision helps put an end to this type of human rights violations.”

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