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European Convention on Human Rights

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In this case the applicants alleged a violation of the Right to Life as enshrined in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a violation of said article.

The facts concern the applicant's son was employed as a welder in the port of Constanța by the company U., where he died by electrocution after having been sent to perform a polishing and cleaning task by the site manager. The coroner concluded that he had died of electrocution through the electric lamp he was using. 

The applicant filed a criminal complaint, claiming that the site manager and the company's directors were responsible for his son's death. By a final judgment of 27 December 2012, the Călăraşi District Court dismissed the applicant's complaint. While the rejection was based on the statute of limitations, the District Court nonetheless noted that the applicant's son had not received specific training for the tasks entrusted to him or protective equipment, but nevertheless considered that the death was due to the victim's own negligence on the ground that, as a trained welder, he must have been aware of the prohibition on the use of the lamp in enclosed spaces and the obligation to work with safety equipment.

In its judgement, the ECtHR reiterated that the absence of direct State responsibility for the death of a person does not exclude the application of Article 2 of the Convention. By requiring the State to take the necessary measures to protect the lives of persons under its jurisdiction, Article 2 § 1 of the Convention imposes a duty on the State to ensure the right to life by putting in place effective criminal legislation and enforcement machinery designed to prevent, suppress and punish offences against the person. [Para. 75].

The ECtHR proceeds to identify a number of failings and shortcomings in the investigation due to incompetence and negligence on behalf of the authorities [para. 78-80] and held that the reasons for the delays at issue which eventually led to the maximum time under the statute of limitations to elapse exclusively attributable to the authorities. [Para. 82].

In view of the foregoing, and in particular the length of the investigation and its consequences, the Court considers that the national authorities failed to act with the diligence required by Article 2 of the Convention. Accordingly, it finds a violation of that provision in its procedural aspect. [Para. 85].


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