The applicant, Mr Tali, was serving a life imprisonment. He refused to comply with the orders of the prison officers. In order to overcome his resistance, physical force, handcuffs and pepper spray were used against him. He was then later confined in a restraint bed for three hours and forty minutes. As a result he sustained a number of injuries. Domestic courts found that the use of force had been lawful as the applicant had not complied with the orders of the prison officers and had behaved aggressively. A claim for compensation filed by the applicant was dismissed.
The applicant complained of ill-treatment by the prison officers in breach of Article 3 of the Convention.
The Court was aware of the difficulties the States might encounter in maintaining order and discipline in penal institutions. The applicant’s character and prior behaviour had given the prison officers a reason to be alert in relation to their safety and for taking immediate measures when he had displayed disobedience, threats and aggression towards them. However, the Court challenged whether the use of pepper spray was legitimate. It noted that the pepper spray is a potentially dangerous substance and it should never be deployed against a prisoner in situations like the present when other measures of control were available.
The Court also noted that a restraint bed should never be used as a means of punishment, but to avoid self-harm or serious danger to other individuals or to prison security. The Court was not convinced that the applicant, who was then already locked up in a single-occupancy disciplinary cell, caused any harm to himself or to others. Considering the cumulative effect of those measures, the Court ruled that the applicant had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the Convention.