ECHR judgement concerning Kauhajoki school shooting


The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held in its judgement on the 17th of September 2020 that Finland has violated European Convention on Human Rights Article 2, right to life.


ECHR press release summary (edited), 17th of September 2020 


The case of Kotilainen and Others v. Finland concerned complaints about failures by the authorities to protect the lives of the victims of the 2008 school shooting in the town of Kauhajoki, in which 10 people were killed.

In its judgement on the 17th of September 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held that there had been, by six votes to one, a violation of Article 2, right to life, of the European Convention on Human Rights owing to the authorities’ failure to observe their duty of diligence and seize the killer’s weapon before the attack, and, unanimously, no violation of Article 2 over the investigation after the attack.

Nine students and a teacher were killed during the shooting, carried out by a student at the school who then killed himself. The Court found that the authorities could not have known of a real and immediate risk to the life of the applicants’ relatives. However, the police had known of posts on the Internet by the student, had interviewed him prior to the attack, and had considered, but decided against, confiscating his weapon. Such a confiscation would have been a reasonable precaution, which had also been allowed by law. The failure to take that step meant the authorities had not fulfilled their special duty of diligence flowing from the particularly high level of risk inherent in any misconduct involving the use of firearms.

The respondent state was sentenced to pay damages to the applicants per houshold units. 


The ECHR press release and judgement can be found from ECHR webpage and from the HUDOC database.