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Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the treatment of prisoners

  • Martin Curtice and John Sandford
Summary

People detained in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, police custody and immigration detention centres remain a cause of concern, particularly to professionals, politicians and the media. As the number of people detained by the state increases, Courts have been taking an increasing interest in cases in which individuals have died in state custody. Such cases are subsumed under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 – the right to life. Article 2 case law has elucidated key principles that can be applied in practice. Importantly, it imposes on states not only a negative duty not to take life intentionally or negligently, but also a positive duty to safeguard life. The inherent positive obligations have two aspects: first, there is a duty to provide an effective and impartial investigation in cases of death resulting from the activities of state officials, and second, a duty to safeguard and protect life.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Martin Curtice, Hollyhill Unit, Rubery Lane, Rubery, Birmingham B45 9AY, UK. Email: mjrc@ukonline.co.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of Interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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Curtice, M (2008) Article 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998: implications for clinical practice. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment; 14: 389–97.
Home Office (2004) Deaths During or Following Police Contact. Statistics for England and Wales, April 2003 to March 2004. Home Office Communication Directorate.
Home Office (2008) Immigration detention capacity to grow substantially (19 May 2008). Home Office (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/news/immigration-detention-centres).
House of Lords, House of Commons (2004) Joint Committee on Human Rights. Third Report of the Session 2004–05. TSO (The Stationery Office).
Ministry of Justice (2009a) Population in custody (monthly). Ministry of Justice (http://www.justice.gov.uk/latest-updates/populationincustody.htm).
Ministry of Justice (2009b) Statistics of mentally disordered offenders. Ministry of Justice (http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/mentally-disordered-offenders.htm).
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BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 1355-5146
  • EISSN: 1472-1481
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
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Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the treatment of prisoners

  • Martin Curtice and John Sandford
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