The applicant, Mr. Valašinas, was serving his prison sentence. While he was searched for illegal items he was ordered to strip naked in front of a female prison officer. He was searched by a male officer who touched his body, including his testicles, and later his food without wearing gloves.
Mr. Valašinas complained that the search of his person amounted to degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention. He alleged that the sole purpose of the search was to humiliate him.
The Court reiterated that in considering whether a treatment is “degrading” within the meaning of Article 3, it will have regard to whether its object is to humiliate and debase the person concerned and whether, as far as the consequences are concerned, it adversely affected his or her personality in a manner incompatible with Article 3. Even the absence of such a purpose cannot conclusively rule out a finding of a violation of Article 3. The Court considered that, while strip-searches may be necessary on occasions to ensure prison security or prevent disorder or crime, they must be conducted in an appropriate manner. In the present case the Court concluded that by obliging Mr. Valašinas to strip naked in the presence of a woman, and then touching his sexual organs with bare hands showed a clear lack of respect for him, and diminished in effect his human dignity. Therefore the Court ruled that the particular strip search of Mr. Valašinas amounted to degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the Convention.