Article 15 of the 1992 Constitution of the Slovak Republic guarantees the right to life:
(1) Everyone has the right to life. Human life is worth protection even before birth.
(2) No one shall be deprived of life.
(4) No infringement of rights according to this Article shall occur if a person has been deprived of life in connection with an action not defined as unlawful under the law.
Article 16(2) of the Constitution stipulates that: "No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Article 28(1) guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. According to paragraph 2:
The conditions under which this right may be exercised shall be provided by a law in cases of assemblies held in public places, if it is regarding measures necessary in a democratic society for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, for the protection of public order, health and morals, property or of national security. An assembly shall not be subject to a permission of a body of public administration.
The Constitution does not address the use of force by law enforcement agencies.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||Yes|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Signatory|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1950 European Convention on Human Rights||State Party|
Police Use of Force
The Police Force of the Slovak Republic is the country's primary law enforcement agency. The Decree of the Minister of the Interior of February 2002 on Code of Ethics of the Police Force stipulates in its Article 1 that police officers "shall respect the human rights, freedoms and duties and avoid malicious and illegal conduct." Article 2 provides that: "Police officers shall perform their duties without respect to religious, racial, national, social, political, class and other external factors."
Act No. 171/1993 addresses the police force. Section 50(3) provides that:
Before using force, the police officer is obliged to call on the target to refrain from any unlawful conduct, with a warning that force will be used. It may only not do so if the life or health of another person is attacked or threatened and the danger cannot be otherwise prevented.
According to Section 50(4):
Depending on the particular situation, the police will decide which type of force they use, in order to achieve the purpose pursued by the service and the force used and the intensity of its use were not manifestly disproportionate to the danger of the attack.
Section 61 governs police use of firearms and knives. Paragraph 1 authorises police use of such weapons inter alia:
- in necessary defence and extreme distress
- to prevent the escape of a dangerous perpetrator who cannot otherwise be detained;
- in the immediate area of the State border, to force a means of transport the driver of which fails to heed a repeated call or sign.
This is more permissive than international law allows.
Article 224(1) and (2) of the Criminal Code provides that a person who by negligence and in violation of his or her duties causes a serious injury to health or the death of another person shall be punished with a prison sentence of between six months and five years or with a fine.
Slovakia has no dedicated independent civilian police oversight body. The Department of Control and Inspection Service of the Ministry of the Interior is an internal investigatory mechanism. In its 2016 Concluding Observations on Slovakia, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern
that investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by police officers are carried out by the Department of Control and Inspection Service of the Ministry of the Interior, which is not sufficiently independent....
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2015 Concluding Observations on Slovakia, the Committee against Torture called on the "State at the highest political level" to ensure
that there will be no tolerance for excessive use of force against persons deprived of their liberty by law enforcement officials, including against members of ethnic minorities; [and to]
Take measures to eradicate all forms of harassment and ill-treatment by police during investigations and ensure that law enforcement officials are trained in professional techniques and international standards on the use of force and firearms....
In its 2016 Concluding Observations on Slovakia, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern
about allegations concerning the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, including ill-treatment and torture, and about the low number of prosecutions and convictions in such cases.
Mižigárová v. Slovakia (2010)
Mr Šarišský was 21 years old and in good health when he was taken into custody at approximately 8 p.m. on 12 August 1999. Several hours later he was rushed to hospital with a gunshot wound to his abdomen and injuries to his neck, right shoulder, face and ear. The fatal shot was fired from Lt. F.'s police service pistol while Mr Šarišský was alone with Lt. F. in his office. Mr Šarišský and Lt. F. clearly had previous dealings with each other..., and the evidence would suggest that Lt. F. volunteered to interrogate Mr Šarišský while he was off duty, without first obtaining the permission of his commanding officer.
In the course of the investigation into his death, at least three accounts were given of how Mr Šarišský was shot. Lt. F. indicated that Mr Šarišský had taken his gun and shot himself. Mr Šarišský allegedly told the investigator that Lt. F. had given him the gun and he had shot himself. The applicant, on the other hand, submitted that her husband told her that Lt. F. had shot him. In carrying out the reconstruction on 8 September 1999, the ballistics experts concluded that Mr Šarišský “most probably” shot himself. Further reconstructions were carried out to determine how Mr Šarišský was able to forcibly remove Lt. F.'s service pistol. No attempt appears to have been made, however, to investigate the allegation made by Mr Šarišský himself, namely that Lt. F. gave him the firearm. Moreover, the Court also observes that no explanation was given for the inconsistencies in the different statements provided by Lt. F. in the course of the domestic proceedings.
The European Court of Human Rights had
grave concerns both about the circumstances surrounding Mr Šarišský's death and the extent to which the authorities have provided “a satisfactory and convincing explanation”.... The inherent improbability of the theory that, while in police custody and while temporarily left alone during his interrogation by Lt. F, Mr. Šarišský would compose a suicide note and on Lt.F's return seize his pistol from his belt and use it to shoot himself in the abdomen gives serious cause to doubt that the authorities have discharged the burden imposed on them under the Convention.
Although there was insufficient evidence to enable the Court to find that the authorities either knew or ought to have known that Mr Šarišský was a suicide risk on the night of his death, the Court noted that there are certain basic precautions which police officers and prison officers should be expected to take in all cases in order to minimise any potential risk. First, the Court would observe that compelling reasons must be given as to why the interrogation of a suspect is entrusted to an armed police officer. For the Court, the facts of the present case disclose no justification whatsoever for allowing Lt. F. to remain in possession of his firearm during the interrogation of Mr Šarišský, a young man who had been arrested on suspicion of bicycle theft. Secondly, at the time of Mr Šarišský's death there were regulations in force which required police officers to secure their service weapons in order to avoid any “undesired consequences”. The domestic courts held that Lt. F's failure properly to secure his service weapon amounted to negligence which resulted in the death of Mr Šarišský. The Court found
that even if Mr Šarišský committed suicide in the manner described by the Government and the investigative authorities, the authorities were in violation of their obligation to take reasonable measures to protect his health and well-being while he was in police custody.