Sometimes the police need to use physical force in order to arrest a person. However, the police must only use as much physical force as is necessary to carry out an arrest successfully. For example, if a person has peacefully surrendered, the police must not roughly push him or her to the ground or hit this person. The State should have a law and regulation that explains when and how the police can use force and the police officers must have proper training to assess the need to use force. If the police have used force during the arrest, the arrestee should be examined by a doctor.

What human rights violation may there be?

Prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment

The use of physical harassment and intimidation during arrest may result in inhumane or degrading treatment. When arrested, you may feel particularly vulnerable because you are under the control of the police and cannot leave. If you are mistreated in such a situation, it may result not only in physical pain and suffering but also cause tremendous psychological effects. In addition, the mere threat of causing you pain may result in inhumane or degrading treatment.

However, the mistreatment has to reach at least a minimum level of severity to result in a human rights violation. When assessing whether you have been treated in an inhumane or degrading way, such things as the duration of the mistreatment, the physical and psychological effects, your age, gender and the condition of your health would be taken into account. Read more about how to evaluate whether your rights have been violated.

Right to life

The use of excessive physical force can result in death of an arrestee. For instance, if the police shoot and kill a fleeing fugitive in a situation when it was possible to capture him/her. If the police have used unnecessary deadly force, it may result in a violation of the right to life. Read more about how to evaluate whether the right to life has been violated. 

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education