FOURTH SECTION

PARTIAL DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 40905/98 
by Hilda HAFSTEINSDOTTIR 
against Iceland

The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 22 October 2002 as a Chamber composed of

Sir Nicolas Bratza, President
 Mrs E. Palm
 Mrs V. Strážnická
 Mr M. Fischbach
 Mr J. Casadevall
 Mr R. Maruste
 Mr L. Garlicki, judges
and  Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged with the European Commission of Human Rights on 25 October 1996,

Having regard to Article 5 § 2 of Protocol No. 11 to the Convention, by which the competence to examine the application was transferred to the Court,

Noting that, following the withdrawal of Mr Gaukur Jörundsson, the judge elected in respect of Iceland, the respondent Government waived their right to appoint another elected judge or an ad hoc judge (Rule 29 of the Rules of Court as in force at the relevant time),

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

 

THE FACTS

The applicant, Ms Hilda Hafsteinsdóttir, is a Icelandic national, who was born in 1949 and lives in Reykjavík, Iceland. She is represented by Mr Ragnar Adalsteinsson, advocate at the Supreme Court. The respondent Government are represented by their agent, Mrs. Björg Thorarensen, of the Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs.

A.  The circumstances of the case

The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

1.Six incidents of detention of the applicant in police custody

The applicant was arrested and held in detention on remand in police custody on six occasions at different dates between on 31 January 1988 and 11 January 1992. Each time she spent the night in a cell and was released in the morning. Further details about these events are stated in the police reports made up by the responsible police officers to the Police Commissioner in Reykjavík and are set out below.

In the night proceeding Sunday, 31 January 1988, at 03.40 a.m., the applicant came to a local police station in the Reykjavík suburb, accompanied by two taxi drivers. While she only had ISK 100 in her possession, the taxi fare had amounted to ISK 1.825. According to a police report (signed by Police Officer R.B.), the taxi drivers had stated that “they had been driving [the applicant] during the night, but since she had refused to pay they had driven her to the nearest police station.” The police record further stated that she was “conspicuously drunk and excited” and that she was “very excited, cursing and uproarious.” The applicant was then transferred to Reykjavík Police Head quarters where she was, on the decision of Assistant Police Inspector H.Ó., detained in custody until the next morning

In a further police report of 31 January 1988 (signed by R.B.), relating to a police interrogation the next morning at 08.55 a.m., it was stated that the reasons for her “being summoned [had] been explained to her”, namely a “case ... concerning taxi fraud, intoxication, etc.” To this she had replied inter alia that she had intended to pay her debt to the driver in the amount of ISK 1.325 when coming home, but had refused paying an invoice of ISK 500, which she would only pay after consultation with her lawyer.  She was astonished about the fact that she had not only been faced with all sorts of accusations by the police but had also been placed in detention without being given the reasons. She was released at 09.25 a.m.

On Friday, 18 May 1990, at 00.05 a.m., the applicant arrived at the Reykjavík police headquarters at Hverfisgata. A police report (signed by Assistant Police Inspector H.Ó.) entitled “Intoxication and detention”, described the applicant’s state of intoxication as “Very conspicuously drunk” and indicated “Drunken behaviour” as the reason for her arrest. The report included the following statement:

“As far as she could be understood she had arrived by taxi and there was some dispute between her and the driver. The driver and the taxi were nowhere to be seen.

[After the police inspector had] talked with Hilda for a while it became clear that the matter of the dispute had disappeared. She suddenly began to stride about in the corridors and the personnel lounge of the police station, confronting the police personnel present and exhibiting drunken behaviour. She could not be calmed down despite repeated requests and finally it was necessary to restrain her by placing her in police custody.”

According to the Government, the police had repeatedly requested the applicant to desist and to leave the police station but, as these requests went unheeded, she was placed in police custody as the final resort. Since the relevant hand-written card file no longer was available, the time of her release could not be confirmed.

On Saturday, 8 December 1990, at 10.15 p.m., the applicant again came to the Reykjavík police headquarters. A police report (signed by Police Officer M.M. and addressed to the Police Commissioner) entitled “Intoxication, arrest and detention in police custody” was taken on her arrival:

“Hilda arrived at the police guardroom in a heavy state of intoxication. It was not clear what she wanted; to a large extent she expressed herself incoherently. She spoke abusively and threatened to assault the police officers present at the station.

Police Officers nos. 41 and 89 brought her to the detention facility... where Inspector R.A. interviewed her.

Hilda was given the opportunity to leave freely, which she flatly refused.  When her overcoat was being removed from the cell, she slashed her surroundings with a leather belt without, however, hurting anybody...”

The report described the applicant’s state of intoxication as “Very conspicuously drunk” and indicated “Intoxication and aggressive behaviour” as the reasons for her arrest, which decision was taken by Inspector R.A.

According to a newly adopted computerised accommodation record for the police custody, her detention lasted from 10.37 p.m. until 08.24 a.m. the next day.

On Saturday, 19 January 1991, at 00.15 a.m., the applicant came to the same police station. The relevant police report (signed by Police Officer M.M.), entitled “Intoxication, improper behaviour, and detention in police custody”, stated that her visit did not have any purpose and that she was very conspicuously drunk. Before she could be stopped, she had burst into the room of the inspector in charge and had addressed him in derogatory terms as a son of a bitch and a eunuch. She was then arrested and accommodated in police custody. The reason for her arrest according to the police report was that she had showered the inspector with verbal abuse. The decision had been taken by Inspector B.S.

The accommodation report indicated that the applicant had been held in detention from 0.18 a.m. until 10.38 a.m., the following morning.

From a note by the police dated 20 January 1991, it appears that the applicant was offered, but refused, a judicial settlement on account of this matter.

On Monday, 24 June 1991 at 9.10 p.m. the applicant again came to the police headquarters in Reykjavík.  The police report concerning this incident  (signed by Police Officer H.D.), stated that she was very conspicuously intoxicated and agitated and that she had the habit of visiting the police station when under the influence of alcohol. Moreover, she made a lot of noise, including calling out the names of various police officers. Her noises and screams increased to a point of disturbing the peace required for the accomplishment of work at the station. The applicant grabbed a waste bin standing in the entrance of the police station and prepared herself to throw the bin at Police Inspector, R.A. who was assisting a man in washing blood off his face. The applicant slammed the bin onto the floor with a loud bang when the policeman raised his hand in order to protect himself. The applicant had many times been ordered to leave the station, but to no avail. Instead, without permission, she had entered a corridor at the station and reached the personnel lounge, while carrying a glass containing a liquor mixture. According to R.A., she had threatened Assistant Inspector K.G. and had become very agitated when kindly requested to stop screaming and to leave the station.

When she refused to leave she was arrested and brought to the detention facility. The decision was taken by Inspector R.A. The police record stated her reason for her arrest as “state of intoxication etc.” According to an accommodation report she was held in custody from approximately 9.20 p.m. until 07.34 a.m. in the following morning. The reason for her detention was registered as “Alcoholic Beverages Act, drunkenness in public.”

On Saturday, 11 January 1992, at 02.39 a.m., police assistance was requested at Hotel Saga in Reykjavík. According to the relevant police report (signed by Police Officer H.R.), when police arrived the applicant had been restrained by the hotel’s personnel. She was very conspicuously intoxicated and agitated. The applicant was arrested and brought to detention on the ground of “intoxication”.  The decision was taken by Assistant Inspector K.G. According to the accommodation report the applicant was detained from 03.14 a.m. until 09.17 a.m. in the following morning.

2.Other incidents

The Government further submitted various pieces of evidence, the contents of which are described below.

This included two police reports, of 25 May 1991 and 12 June 1992, respectively, concerning refusals by the applicant to pay taxi fares. Another report, dated 5 November 1991, stated that she had been ordered to leave a police station while in an intoxicated state but had left the station after having damaged a toilet and after having insulted a police officer with improper language. Later in the night she had, without reason, disturbed the police in its work by repeatedly telephoning the police assistance and emergency number.

On 13 October 1991 Chief Inspector J.J.H. complained to the Prosecutor General about the applicant having sent him gifts and having harassed him repeatedly with phone calls both at work and at his home. Once she had come to his home and had harassed his pregnant daughter. On 5 February 1992 the Prosecutor General replied that following an investigation by the State Criminal Investigation Police, further measures by the prosecution authority were not deemed justified.

On 9 September 1993 the State Criminal Investigation Police informed the applicant and the Police Commissioner in Reykjavík that no further measures would be taken with respect to the above-mentioned complaint of 13 October 1991.

3.Complaints by the applicant to the Prosecutor General and to the Parliamentary Ombudsman

On 13 December 1991 counsel for the applicant, Mr Hilmar Ingimundarson, requested the Prosecutor General to order the State Criminal Investigation Police to investigate the applicant’s complaints against various police officers, notably in relation to the events on 8 December 1990 and 24 June 1991. Such an investigation had formerly been refused by the State Criminal Investigation Police on 3 December 1991. On 5 February 1992 the Prosecutor General replied that the authority found no reason to order an investigation. On 2 July 1992 a similar reply was given to another complaint by the applicant concerning the events on 18 May 1990.

On 15 July 1992 the applicant petitioned the Parliamentary Ombudsman asking for an explanation of the reasons for the refusals of her requests for an investigation. On 4 August 1992 the Ombudsman concluded:

"It is clear from the case file that you and the police differ considerably as to the manner in which the police officers got involved with you on the said dates and the events preceding these incidents. I do not find that a resolution of a dispute of this kind is within the purview of the Parliamentary Ombudsman and, consequently, conclude that there are no grounds for me to further consider the matter raised in your petition."

The applicant filed a criminal complaint concerning the treatment that she had suffered at the hands of the police, but the Director of Public Prosecutions did not consider there were any grounds for ordering an investigation (by letters dated 5 February 1992 and 2 July 1992). By a letter to the applicant dated 14 September 1992, the Reykjavík police informed her that no further action would be taken regarding the matter.

4.Civil compensation proceedings brought by the applicant

On 11 March 1993 the applicant instituted civil proceedings against the State of Iceland claiming compensation for damage which she had suffered as a result of having been unlawfully arrested and detained by the police as well as harassment.

After a first set of proceedings the Supreme Court ordered the District Court of Reykjavík to examine the case afresh with an oral hearing. 

By a judgment of 11 April 1995 the District Court found that the applicant’s claim was time barred pursuant to the six-months time limit laid down in Article 157 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

On an appeal by the applicant the Supreme Court, by judgment of 10 October 1996, overturned the District Court’s finding. After an examination of the merits it nevertheless found for the State, giving the following reasons:

“...The judgment under appeal refers to six events in this case which occurred during the period from 31 January 1988 to [11 January 1992]. According to the police reports, on each occasion the appellant was arrested and detained on remand because she was intoxicated and excited and did not listen to reason. The police reports relate how she acted belligerently at the police station, spoke abusively or behaved in a drunken and disorderly fashion and was detained to put her in check. These descriptions, which have not been refuted, make it clear that the police had both the occasion and a sufficient reason to detain the appellant for a short time, cf. the main rule in Article 34 of the Code on Criminal Procedure, no. 74/1974, which was then in force, and Articles 2 and 3 of the Resolution concerning the Police of Reykjavík, no. 625/1987, since it must be agreed that under prevailing circumstances, no other remedy was available. There is therefore no basis for her claim for damages and the respondent must be immediately discharged from liability in respect of the claim. ...”

5. Medical certificate

The applicant has submitted a medical certificate dated 13 December 1996, which reads:

“...For two years I, the undersigned, have acted as the [applicant’s] general practitioner. During this period, nothing has occurred which would indicate that she has had problems related to alcohol. Neither do the reports from previous doctors give any reason to believe that she has had such problems. ...”

 

B.  Relevant domestic law

Article 34 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as in force at the material time (1974:74) read:

“Police officers are obliged to display vigilance in their work and know clearly the responsibility accompanying it. Their role is to uphold law and order, assist the public, as appropriate, take measures against unlawful conduct and work towards the revelation of criminal offences that are committed and to be of assistance, in every manner, to official investigators. ....”

Articles 2 and 3 of the Resolution concerning the Police of Reykjavík (no. 625/1987) provided:

Article 2

“‘Public area’ in the resolution means streets and areas intended for use by the public.  The provisions on public areas apply also, if appropriate, to other places open to the public - stores, restaurants, parking places, bus stop shelters, museums, etc.”

Article 3

“Breaches of the peace, fights, disorderly conduct or other behaviour that disturbs the peace may not occur in public areas, and people may not gather in groups there if doing so interferes with traffic or causes inconvenience to others passing there.

In public places, no one may harass others or indulge in unseemly behaviour.”

The above provisions had a statutory basis in Act No. 1 of 3 January 1890, Article 2 of which stipulated:

“The police resolution shall contain provisions on such matters as may be required in the circumstances obtaining in each place:

(a)  On the order and proper conduct on streets, roads and areas to which the public has access, on all measures that are necessary in order to facilitate or prevent obstruction to traffic, on all matters that may cause danger, on the preservation and protection of public property, on the public order in restaurants and places of entertainment accessible to the general public or public gatherings such as tournaments. ...”

Article 5 provided that a violation of police resolutions adopted under the Act was liable to punishment by the payment of a fine.

At the relevant time, the Alcoholic Beverages Act 1969 (later replaced by Act 15/1998) included in its Sections 21 and 33 provisions to the effect that any person causing disorder, danger or disgrace in a public area in violation of the Act, or a regulation issued under it, may be liable to punishment by the payment of “fines, punitive custody or imprisonment for up to 6 years”.

Assault and threatening behaviour committed against a public servant in the performance of his or her official duties constituted a criminal offence under Articles 106 and 107 of the 1940 General Penal Code.

Compensation for unlawful detention could be sought from the State under Article 151 of the 1974 Code of Civil Procedure, subject, however to time-limits set out in Article 157:

Article 151

“By way of a judgment, an award of compensation may be made with respect to arrest, personal search, an examination of a person’s health or any other measure involving interference with liberty, other than detention on remand and imprisonment, under Articles 152 and 153, as well as with respect to house search and seizure:

1. If the conditions provided for in law for the taking of such measures have not been fulfilled;

2. If the circumstances have not provided an adequate reason for taking the measures in question, or if they have been carried out in an unnecessarily dangerous, injurious or offensive manner.”

Article 157

“The right of compensation shall lapse when six months have passed from when the party became aware of a decision to discontinue an investigation or not to prosecute, from when a judgment of acquittal was rendered, or from when the party was released from punitive custody or imprisonment. If a criminal case has been subject to appeal to the Supreme Court, the period shall be counted from when the Supreme Court delivered its judgment.”

COMPLAINTS

The applicant maintained that her arrests and detention were not permitted on any of the grounds enumerated in Article 5 § 1 (a) to (f) of the Convention. Furthermore, she alleged a violation of Article 5 § 2, as she had not been informed of the reasons for her arrests. Furthermore, she complained that the Supreme Court’s judgment of 10 October 1996 rejecting her compensation claim against the State of Iceland entailed a breach of Article 5 § 5. Finally, she complained that there had been a violation of Article 6 of the Convention.

THE LAW

A. Alleged violation of Article 5 of the Convention

Article 5 of the Convention, in so far as is relevant, reads:

“1.  Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:

(a)  the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;

(b)  the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non- compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;

(c)  the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;

(d)  the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority;

(e)  the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants;

(f)  the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition.

2.  Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.

...

5.  Everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this Article shall have an enforceable right to compensation.”

1. The applicant alleged a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention. She submitted that the deprivation of her liberty by the Reykjavík police on six occasions between 31 January 1988 and 11 January 1992 had not been “lawful”; the measures had not been authorised under any Icelandic statutory provision or regulation and had not been ordered “in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law”. Nor had they been based on any of the grounds set out in sub-paragraphs (a) to (f) in paragraph 1 of Article 5.

As regards the Government’s submission that the detention was covered by the sub-paragraph (e), the applicant argued that it would be a distortion of the meaning of the term “alcoholics” to include persons temporarily under the influence of alcohol. All the groups of persons referred to in this provision had one common denominator, namely the permanent or continuing state of their condition or attitude.

According to the applicant she had since the very outset disputed the correctness of the information contained in the police reports suggesting that there was a basis for her arrest and detention. She denied having been an alcoholic.  Invoking the medical certificate of 13 December 1996 quoted above, she affirmed that she had not been abusing alcohol or using it harmfully. She did not behave dangerously after consuming alcohol and had not endangered public safety; nor was her detention in a prison cell necessary for the protection of her own interests.  Had her detention been ordered for such reasons, one could have expected the police to have secured evidence to show this, for instance by means of medical observation pursuant to the Act on Alcoholic Beverages 1998 or a criminal investigation. Even the police reports did not state that public safety was at risk because of the applicant’s behaviour. The actual reason for her detention was that the police was irritated.

The applicant further stressed that at no stage had any evidence been adduced to the effect that she had been conspicuously drunk or might have caused danger to persons or property or herself at any time. She had presented witness evidence to the contrary, for instance by taxi drivers who were present at the scene when she was arrested. The Government did not go beyond alleging that the police had reason or might have had reason to believe that she was intoxicated.

Moreover, the applicant argued, none of the relevant police reports stated who took the decision to detain her and under what authority. In five of the six instances it was stated that she was arrested at the police station. Only on the first occasion was she given an opportunity to make a statement, while interviewed as a suspect without any reference being made to the relevant penal provisions.

The applicant stressed that, unlike the applicant in the case of Withold Litwa v. Poland (no. 26629/95, ECHR 2000-), she was not examined by a medical doctor or a health worker either upon arrest or release. Rather than being taken into custody in a health establishment she was locked up in a prison cell. The treatment of her was like the one of a criminal suspect and was unrelated to social policy.

The Government, accepting that the impugned measures “restricted the applicant’s liberty” for the purposes of paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Convention, maintained that the various instances of detention were “in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law”, were “lawful” and justified under sub-paragraph (e) of paragraph 1.

In the first place, the Government argued, the medical certificate of 13 December 1996 relied on by the applicant was issued almost five years after the last detention in issue and did not confirm conclusively that she was not an alcoholic or did not suffer from alcohol related problems at the material time. Secondly, prior medical confirmation of whether a person was an alcoholic was not a prerequisite for regarding detention justified under sub-paragraph (e). This provision would otherwise become nugatory, as such confirmation was normally unavailable when police was to get involved with intoxicated persons. The purpose of this provision ought to be borne in mind, namely to permit national authorities to take measures with respect to persons who were under the influence of alcohol or other inebriating substances, or persons whose mental condition was otherwise such as to endanger themselves or their environment. In this connection the Government prayed in aid the Court’s judgment in the above mentioned Witold Litwa v. Poland case and decision in Dieudonné Duriez-Costes v. France (no. 50638/99, dec. 24.10.2000). As indicated in the relevant police reports, on all of the six occasions when the applicant was deprived of her liberty, she bore all the outward signs of intoxication and her unrestrained behaviour could be explained by her intoxication. Thus the measures were covered by Article 5 § 1(e).

Moreover, as confirmed by the Icelandic Supreme Court in its judgment of 10 October 1996 in the compensation proceedings, the detention in issue had a legal basis in Article 34 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and in Articles 2 and 3 of the Reykjavík Police Ordinance. The measures had been made necessary by the applicant’s own conduct and behaviour vis-à-vis the police, namely her repeated disturbances by noise and harassment while police officers were carrying out their routine duties. From time to time over a certain period she visited the police station, either to see Police Officer J.J.H. or for no purpose. On most occasions she left the police station without any difficulty. In some instances she completely lost control of herself while in a state of heavy intoxication and thus created a danger both for the police personnel working at the station and for members of the public present in the reception area.

Although the above-mentioned provisions did not specify what measures the police was to take in order to prevent this kind of conduct, the police always resorted to the most lenient types of measures. Each time, before the applicant was detained, attempts had first been made to take more lenient measures, notably to walk with her and calm her down. For example, on 25 May 1991 she accepted to be driven home by the police; on 5 November 1991 and 12 June 1992 she complied with police orders to leave the station.  But on 31 January 1988 she had been detained, since her state of heavy intoxication and unruly behaviour made it impossible to talk to her and to take a statement from her. On 18 May and 8 December 1990 and on 19 January and 24 June 1991 she had come to the police station of her own accord late at night under the influence of alcohol, had refused to heed repeated requests to leave and evinced threatening and hostile behaviour towards the police officers, thereby seriously disturbing their work and public order in the stations’ reception area. Yet again, on 11 January 1992, her intoxication and agitation in a hotel had made her detention necessary.

In the light of the above, the Government invited the Court to declare the complaint under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention as being manifestly ill-founded.

The Court, having regard to the parties’ submissions, considers that the applicant’s complaint under Article 5 § 1 raises complex issues of law and fact under the Convention, the determination of which should depend on an examination of the merits of the complaint. The Court concludes, therefore, that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. No other grounds for declaring it inadmissible have been established.

2. The applicant further alleged a violation of Article 5 § 2 of the Convention on account of the failure of the police to inform her of the reasons for her arrest and detention.

The Government disputed this allegation, arguing that, because of the applicant’s state of intoxication and agitation, it was not only in the nature things impossible to explain to her the reasons for her deprivation of liberty but those were moreover obvious.  The police report preceding her release from detention on 31 January 1988 clearly stated the reason for her arrest. In any event, the applicant did not raise the matter complained of under Article 5 § 2 in the course of the national proceedings.

The Court notes that, despite the latter observation by the Government, the applicant has not drawn its attention to or submitted particulars on any observations by her lawyer before the Supreme Court dealing specifically with the matter raised subsequently under Article 5 § 2 of the Convention in her application to the European Court. It does not appear that the applicant has exhausted domestic remedies as required Article 34.  It follows that this part of the application must be declared inadmissible pursuant to Article 34 §§ 1 and 4.

3. The applicant further alleged a breach of Article 5 § 5 of the Convention as the Icelandic Supreme Court rejected her compensation claim.

The Government contested this allegation.

The Court reiterates that paragraph 5 of Article 5 is complied with where it is possible to apply for compensation in respect of deprivation of liberty effected in conditions contrary to paragraphs 1, 2, 3 or 4 (see, amongst many authorities, the Wassink v. the Netherlands judgment of 27 September 1990, Series A no. 185-A, § 38).  There is nothing to indicate that an action for compensation under the Icelandic Code of Criminal Procedure failed to satisfy the requirements of Article 5 § 5 of the Convention. Indeed, in the instant case, the applicant was able to challenge the lawfulness of her detention and seek compensation before the Supreme Court.

In the light of the above considerations, the Court finds that this part of the application discloses no appearance of a violation of Article 5 § 5 of the Convention. It follows that it must be rejected as being manifestly ill-founded, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

B. Alleged violation of Article 6 of the Convention

The applicant finally alleged a breach of Article 6 (right to a fair hearing) of the Convention. She submitted, firstly, that, while “charged” on 31 January 1988, she had not been informed promptly or at all of the nature and cause of the accusations against her. Secondly, she had not been afforded a lawyer of her own choosing. There had thus been violation of Article 6 § 3 (a) and (b).

Thirdly, the applicant alleged a violation of Article 6 invoking that it was not until 14 September 1992 that the Reykjavík Police informed her lawyer that it would take no further steps with regard to the six incidents. So it was only from that moment that she could bring compensation proceedings against the State with respect to her unlawful detention. 

However, the Court observes that none of these allegations were elaborated on with specific reference to Article 6 of the Convention in the applicant’s initial application to the Court. The first contention is contradicted by the relevant police report and is unsubstantiated. In the absence of any criminal proceedings being brought against the applicant in relation to the six incidents leading to her detention, neither her first nor her second point would seem to raise any issue under Article 6 § 3. In any event, it does not appear from the evidence submitted that the applicant raised these grievances before the Icelandic Supreme Court. The third allegation must fail too, as the applicant did indeed enjoy the possibility of challenging, on conditions not at variance with Article 6, the lawfulness of her detention before the Supreme Court. The Court, in the light of the material in its possession, and in so far as the matters complained of are within its competence, finds that they do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention or its Protocols. It follows that this part of the application must also be rejected, in accordance with Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court

Decides by a majority, to declare admissible, without prejudging the merits, the applicant’s complaint under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention that her detention on six occasions at various dates between 31 January 1988 and 11 January 1992 was not justified under this provision;

Decides, unanimously, to declare inadmissible the remainder of the application.

Michael O’Boyle  Nicolas Bratza 
 Registrar President

HAFSTEINSDOTTIR v. ICELAND DECISION


HAFSTEINSDOTTIR v. ICELAND DECISION