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Application no. 77869/01
by Danuta WITASZAK and Bogusława WITASZAK
against Poland

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 14 November 2006 as a Chamber composed of:

Sir Nicolas Bratza, President,
Mr J. Casadevall,
Mr M. Pellonpää,
Mr K. Traja,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr L. Garlicki,
Ms L. Mijović, judges,
and Mr T.L. Early, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 17 February 2001,

Having regard to the partial decision of 7 March 2006,

Having regard to the decision to apply Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and examine the admissibility and merits of the case together,

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:


The applicants, Ms Danuta Witaszak and Ms Bogusława Witaszak, are Polish nationals who were born in 1965 and 1958, respectively, and live in Nowogród Bobrzański. The respondent Government are represented by their Agent, Mr Jakub Wołąsiewicz of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A. The circumstances of the case

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

On the evening of 4 June 2000 the applicants had drinks in a bar in Płock. At 6 p.m. approximately a bartender called the police, complaining that the applicants were noisy and boisterous, were drunk and were upsetting other clients.

The police came and took the applicants to the Płock sobering-up centre (Izba Wytrzeźwień). After a breathalyser test the police took the applicants to the local police station and put them in a cell until 6 a.m. on the following day.

On the morning of 5 June 2000 the applicants were told that proceedings would be instituted against them on charges of having caused a disturbance of the public order. The applicants were released on the same day.

On 11 June 2000 the applicants submitted a complaint to the Płock District Court about their detention, arguing that it had not been justified.

By a decision of 28 August 2000 the Płock District Court dismissed the applicants’ complaint. It held that their detention had been justified and lawful, and that it had been carried out in a manner provided for by the applicable laws.

On 21 September 2000 the applicants complained to the police that they did not have access to the reports on their arrest and detention.

In a reply of 25 September 2000 the Plock City Police informed them that persons taken to a sobering-up centre did not have the status of a suspect or of an accused in criminal proceedings. Accordingly, the police were not under an obligation to grant them access to the case file.


The applicants complained that their arrest and subsequent detention in the Płock sobering-up centre and at the police station had been unlawful and arbitrary and had therefore amounted to a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention.

They complained under Article 5 § 2 that their right to be informed promptly of the reasons of their arrest had been breached.

The applicants further complained that the proceedings in which they challenged the lawfulness of their detention had been unfair. In the proceedings in which the court had examined their appeal against the detention order they had not been granted access to the case-file.

Lastly, they complained under Article 13 that they had not had a right to challenge the lawfulness of their arrest and detention before a court.


The Court observes that by a letter of 1 August 2006 the applicants were invited to reply, by 12 September 2006, to the Government’s written observations on the admissibility and merits of the case. However, the Court’s letter to the applicants was returned. It transpired from a postal delivery report that the applicants had refused to accept it from the postman.

By further registered letters of 31 August 2006 and 7 September 2006 the applicants were requested to inform the Court whether they wished to pursue the case. Their attention was drawn to Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention which provides:

“The Court may at any stage of the proceedings decide to strike an application out of its list of cases where the circumstances lead to the conclusion that

(a) the applicant does not intend to pursue his application...

However, the Court shall continue the examination of the application if respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols thereto so requires.”

On 25 September 2006 and 3 October 2006 postal delivery reports were received at the Court indicating that the applicants had not picked up the registered letters of 31 August 2006 and 7 September 2006 from the post office within the two-week time-limit provided for by law.

In the light of the above, the Court considers that the applicants do not intend to pursue their application. The Court also considers that respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols does not require it to continue the examination of the case. The application should therefore be struck out of the list of cases in accordance with Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to discontinue the application of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention to the case;

Decides to strike the remainder of the application out of its list of cases.

T.L. Early Nicolas Bratza
Registrar President