Jalloh v. Germany

European Court of Human Rights
11 July 2006


After his arrest, the applicant was ordered by the competent public prosecutor to take medicine inducing vomiting in order to retrieve evidence from his stomach. As he refused to take the medicine voluntarily, they were administered with force. A short while later he was examined by a doctor who declared him fit for detention.


The applicant claimed that he had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment as a result of having been forcibly administered medication.

Court's ruling

General principles: 

The Court reiterated that to fall within the scope of Article 3 ill-treatment must attain at least a minimum level of severity, which is relative and depends on such circumstances as the duration of the treatment, its physical and mental effects and, in some cases, the sex, age and state of health of the victim.

‘Inhumane’ treatment could occur in situations of premeditated mistreatment, applied for hours at a stretch and causing either actual bodily injury or intense physical and mental suffering. 

‘Degrading’ treatment could arouse in its victims feelings of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing them and possibly breaking their physical or moral resistance or when it was such as to drive the victim to act against his or her will or conscience.  Moreover, the intention to humiliate or debase the victim could be taken into account.

In the present case:  

In the case of Mr Jalloh the Court found that the authorities subjected him to a grave interference with his physical and mental integrity against his will. They forced him to regurgitate in order to retrieve evidence they could equally have obtained by less intrusive methods. The manner in which the impugned measure was carried out could have been humiliating and debasing for the applicant. Furthermore, the procedure entailed risks to the applicant’s health. The measure was implemented in a way which caused the applicant both physical pain and mental suffering. Thus the Court concluded that there has been a violation of Article 3.

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Last updated 17/01/2024