A person suspected of having committed a criminal offence may be arrested. However, the arrest has to be carried out lawfully and respecting human rights.
Case summary

Guzzardi v. Italy

European Court of Human Rights
6 November 1980

Mr Guzzardi, an Italian citizen, was charged with conspiracy and other criminal charges. After expiry of the maximum period of detention on remand he was removed to a small island and placed in a compulsory residence in a small area of approximately 800 m around the house. He had no access to the central part of the island, social activities, and leaving the residence was subject to authorisation and strictly supervised.

Mr Guzzardi complained that he was deprived of his liberty. He was forced to live on a ‘scrap of land’ where he was unable to work, live with his family or practice the Catholic religion.

Court’s ruling
As he was not imprisoned, the Court had to decide whether Mr Guzzardi was at all deprived of his liberty. The Court ruled that there was a difference between deprivation of and restriction upon liberty. The difference was one of degree and not one of nature of limitation. In this case Mr Guzzardi was able to move freely in a bigger space than prison cell, but there were very few possibilities to make social contacts, he was strictly supervised by the police and he could not leave the island freely. None of these factors individually amounted to deprivation of liberty, but as they were applied all together, it was concluded that Mr Guzzardi was deprived of his liberty. 

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education