Lorse and others v. the Netherlands

European Court of Human Rights
4 February 2003


The applicant, Mr. Lorsé, was serving his prison sentence in extra security prison. He was strip searched at least once a week and before and after the visits of his family memebers. The strip-search involved an external viewing of the body’s orifices and crevices. An anal inspection was carried out in a closed room.


Mr. Lorsé complained that the regular strip searching violated Article 3 of the Convention. 

Court's ruling

The Court reiterated that strip-searches may be necessary on occasions to ensure prison security or to prevent disorder or crime. However in the case at hand the Court was struck by the fact that the applicant was strip-searched on weekly basis in addition to other limitations related to the strict regime of his prison. The Court noted that the authorities had never found anything illegal on Mr. Lorsé and they were aware that he had serious difficulties coping with the strict regime of the detention. The Court considered that the systematic strip-searching of Mr Lorsé required more justification than had been put forward by the Government.

The Court considered that in the situation where Mr. Lorsé was already subjected to a great number of control measures, and in the absence of convincing security needs, the practice of weekly strip-searches that was applied to Mr. Lorsé for a period of more than six years diminished his human dignity and must have given rise to feelings of anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing him. Therefore the Court ruled that in the particular circumstances the weekly strip searches amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

Learn more

Last updated 18/11/2023