The applicant, Mr. Farbtuhs, at the time of his imprisonment was more than 80 years old. He had several incurable diseases which caused him pain as well as inability stand up or sit down, to dress and move around without the help of others. The prison had no special equipment to satisfy the needs of Mr. Farbtuhs. There were no medical personnel in the prison during the night, thus Mr. Farbtuhs was dependent on other inmates during that time.
The applicant complained that his imprisonment violated Article 3 of the Convention.
The Court emphasized that prisoners must be held in conditions which are compatible with human dignity. It pointed that if persons with disabilities are held in prison, the state must ensure that all the conditions in the prison satisfy the special needs of these persons. The lack of adequate medical care and more generally the continued detention of a seriously ill person in inappropriate conditions can in principle be contrary to Article 3.
The Court did not exclude that in special cases the interests of justice may require to adopt humanitarian measures in order to safeguard persons’ deprived of their liberty physical integrity. The Court noted that the applicant was 84 years old at the time of his imprisonment and suffered from a series of incurable conditions which made him unable to perform daily tasks like sitting or standing up, dressing etc. independently. The Court also found that there was no medical personnel on duty during the night, therefore Mr. Farbtuhs must have felt helpless knowing that no qualified medical assistance will be available to him in the case of emergency.
The Court found it inadequate to place responsibility for the care of a person with disability on fellow inmates who did not have appropriate qualifications and training. Thus, taking into account the great age and disability of Mr. Farbtuhs and the lack of special treatment of him, the Court ruled that his imprisonment constituted degrading treatment in violation of Article 3 of the Convention.