Article 2 requires that the Government take steps to safeguard the lives of everyone within the UK’s jurisdiction:
Prohibits intentional killing
The State is expressly forbidden from taking life. However, there will be no breach of Article 2 if death results from the use of force that is no more than absolutely necessary:
The key test here is that the use of force is no more than ‘absolutely necessary’. This requires that consideration be given to all dangers and risks and whether a situation was planned and controlled.
The Government must also ensure that police and security services that are faced with situations where the use of lethal force is possible must be appropriately trained, instructed and given strict guidance as to when officers can use arms.
Investigations and inquests
Article 2 also requires that there be an effective official investigation into deaths resulting from the State’s use of force and where the State has failed to protect life. Such an investigation must:
In 2000 Zahid Murbarek a 19 year old Asian man, was beaten to death in a youth detention facility by his white cellmate who had a history of racist and violent behaviour.
While the Director General of the Prison Service accepted responsibility for the death no public inquiry or inquest into the death was held – rather a number of internal investigations were carried out which did not allow for any public involvement, let alone the involvement of Zahid’s family. The Secretary of State refused the family’s request for a public inquiry.
Using Article 2 of the HRA the family was able to get the Home Secretary to order a public inquiry into Zahid’s death which fully investigated the failures that led to his death and the detention centre’s disregard of racism within the facility.