Is the “Mosquito” Teenager-Repellent Device “Degrading”?
I don’t know what to make of this report about a controversial device used to repel teenagers and children by using a high-pitched frequency only young people can hear.
The mosquito works by emitting a pulse at 16-18.5 kilohertz that switches on and off four times a second for up to 20 minutes. It emits an irritating, high-pitched sound that can be heard only by children and people into their early 20s, and is used to prevent teenagers congregating outside shops, schools and railway stations.
A Council of Europe investigation, however, calls the use of these devices — “mosquitos” — a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. According to this report, the devices contravene, among other things, the prohibition on discrimination based on age and the prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment. The Report seems to emphasize the degrading point. I would have to know more about the devices, but on its face, I wonder how it could meet the the ECHR’s prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 3. Does degrading really have a separate independent meaning from the cruel and inhuman language of that provision? In other words, could something violate Article 3 by being degrading, but not cruel or inhumane? I don’t know enough about the ECHR case law to say, but it seems implausible to me.