On December 3rd 2009, the Committee of Ministers adopted the resolution (2009)126, closing  the examination of the judgment of Selmouni v. France (25803/94).

From November 25th to 29th 1991, the applicant was tortured at a police station in Bobigny during an investigation on drug trafficking. According to him, he was assaulted physically and sexually with a weapon, and threatened with a syringe and a blowlamp because he was exercising his right to remain silent.

On September 16th 1993, the appeal court of Paris sentenced the applicant to 13 years in jail for drug trafficking. On July 1st 1999, after a lengthy investigation, the appeal court of Versailles sentenced 4 police officers for assault to suspended prison terms, and a 5th one, the leader of the group to 3 months in jail and a 15 months suspended prison term. The maximum sentence for torture is now 20 years in prison according to article 222-3 7° of the penal code and life in prison if perjury was also committed according to article 222-2 of the penal code.

On July 28th 1999, the European Court of Human Rights condemned the French Republic for violation of article 3 of the Convention due to the torture of the applicant and violation of article 6-1 of the Convention on account of the length of the proceedings. The French Republic was also condemned to pay €76,220 for personal injury and non-pecuniary damage and €17,281 EUR for legal cost. Mr. Ahmed Selmouni was represented by Me Marie-Alix Canu Bernard who was not available for comments on the resolution adopted.

On December 3rd 2009, the Committee of Ministers found satisfying in its Resolution CM/ResDH(2009)126, the creation in 2001 of a national police ethic committee (C.N.D.S) and the publication of a speech on the judgment Selmouni v. France in an annual academic magazine as general measure to prevent torture in police custody and to guarantee effective and speedy investigation on torture allegation.

Ironically, the national police ethic committee (C.N.D.S) doesn’t respect any of the recommendations of  the Opinion  of the Commissioner for Human Rights concerning independent and effective determination of complaints against police published on March 12th 2009. Furthermore, the self-satisfying speech published on the judgement Selmouni v. France was made by the agent of the French Republic at the ECHR : It was a violent attack against the ECHR and a minimization of the torture endured by the applicant.

In 2005 and 2009, Amnesty International published reports (EUR 21/001/2005EUR 21/003/2009) concluding to the “effective impunity of law enforcement officers in case of shootings, deaths in custody or torture and ill-treatment” in France.

Some might argue that the most effective general measure to prevent torture in police custody is the mandatory audio and video recording of police custody facilities including interrogation rooms and the mandatory presence of  the suspect’s lawyer during police interrogation.

In January 2010, the police officers of the drug investigation team of  the county of Seine-Saint Denis (including Bobigny)  refused to start to allow lawyers to meet their client during the first 72h of the police custody despite multiple requests of the investigating judges.

Update :

Me Marie-Alix Canu Bernard stated in an e-mail that none of the general measure taken including the creation of C.N.D.S, were according to her, effective to prevent torture.

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