On April 7th 2008, Mr. Mahmoud Philippe El Shennawy was transferred to the notorious jail of Pau. He was placed in solitary confinement and was guarded by masked prison guards of the ERIS unit.

From April 9th to April 18th 2008, the applicant accused of armed robbery, appeared at the criminal court of Pau. Each day of court appearance, the applicant was strip searched naked for up to 8 times and asked by masked guards of the ERIS to bend over and/or squat. When the applicant was bending over and/or squatting, the ERIS guards were doing a visual inspection of his anus. These acts were videotaped by one of the guard. On April 11th 2008, the applicant refused to squat. Nevertheless the masked guards coerced him to squat naked. Later in the day, they forcibly removed his clothes, coerced him to squat naked and forced him to appear in court.

On April 11th 2008, the judge presiding the criminal court ruled that he couldn’t order the ERIS guards to stop these acts. On April 15th 2008, the judge of the administrative tribunal of Pau ruled that only the judges of the criminal court of Pau could order the ERIS guards to stop. On November 14th 2008, the administrative supreme court annulled the ruling of the administrative tribunal of Pau (case 315622) but refused to rule on the violation of article 3 of the Convention.

On October 15th 2008, the applicant submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the multiple strip searches, the bending over, the coerced squatting, the visual inspection of his anus and the videotaping of these acts were violations of articles 3 and 8 of the Convention. He added that the lack of effective remedy was a violation of article 13 and also that these acts prevented him to defend himself during the trial in violation of articles 6-1 and 6-3. On June 16th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent of the French government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks.

On January 20th 2011, the Court found a violation of article 3 of the Convention on the ground that the multiple strip searches, the bending over, the forced squatting. and their videotaping by masked guards were overall a degrading treatment. The Court also found that the applicant didn’t have any effective remedy to obtain redress, in violation of article 13 but forgot to examine the allegations of violations of articles 6-1 and 6-3.

The applicant was represented by Me Patrice Spinosi (Paris) who was not available for comments.