This judgement was delivered by the Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in September 2016. The applicant has been addicted to heroin for almost 40 years, and whist incarcerated he was seen as having little to no chance to lead a drug free life. The applicant was denied drug substitution treatment when he started his sentence. An expert was called in on behalf of the applicant, and recommended that the applicant receive drug substitution treatment as he had been able to live a relatively normal life whilst undergoing drug substitution therapy previously.
The prison subsequently denied the applicant access to drug substitution treatment, even though the applicant expressed a clear wish to continue with the therapy he had started before he was sentenced to prison. The applicant subsequently complained that the refusal to grant him drug substitution therapy in prison, which caused him to suffer considerable pain and caused damage to his health, amounted to inhuman treatment (which is a breach of article 3 of the ECHR).
The Court agreed with the applicant in that the authorities’ refusal to offer him drug substitution therapy in detention, without having consulted an external medical expert, had constituted inhuman treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention.
Citation: European Court of Human Rights, Wenner v. Germany, no. 62303/13, § 59, ECHR 2016