Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
05.04.2005

Facts

The applicant, Mr. Nevmerzhitsky, was detained in prison. The applicant was on hunger strike for several periods of time during which he was force fed by the prison authorities and he was found to be suffering from several dermatological diseases.

Complaint

Mr. Nevmerzhitsky complained of the lack of necessary medical treatment and assistance violated his rights under Article 3 of the Convention.

Court's ruling

The Court reiterated that Article 3 prohibits in absolute terms torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, irrespective of the circumstances and the victim's behavior. In considering whether treatment is “degrading”, the Court has to assess whether its object is to humiliate and debase the person concerned and whether, as far as the consequences are concerned, it adversely affected his or her personality in a manner incompatible with Article 3. However, the absence of such a purpose cannot conclusively rule out a finding of a violation of this provision. 

In the case at hand the Court noted that Mr. Nevmerzhitsky was examined by a doctor for the first time only one and half months after he had been detained. He was also not suffering from any skin disease prior to his detention. He was also kept in custody despite the recommendation of an independent doctor to be treated in a specialized hospital for skin disease. After the applicant resumed his hunger strike, was not examined by a doctor for several months. There was also no medical assistance provided or record of the food that was administered during the force feeding. In the Court's view, this could not be deemed to be adequate and reasonable medical attention, given the hunger strike and the diseases from which the applicant was suffering. Thus the Court found that the lack of adequate medical treatment of Mr. Nevmerzhitsky amounted to a degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the Convention.