Tomorrow, judges will give their decision on a complaint against the United Kingdom brought by an Ashworth Special Hospital patient against his confinement conditions.
The applicant, C. Munjaz, (Munjaz v. The United Kingdom – no. 2913/06) is a British national who was born in 1947. Suffering from mental health problems, he has spent a number of periods in prison and hospital.
The case concerns Munjaz’s complaint about his placement in seclusion in Ashworth Special Hospital (a high security hospital) where he was transferred in March 1994 as a result of his increasingly psychotic, aggressive and violent behaviour.
Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of degrading or inhuman treatment) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), he alleges that Ashworth’s in-hospital policy on seclusion,which does not comply with the Code of Practice under the Mental Health Act, not only placed him at risk of ill-treatment but also adversely affected his right to personal development and to establish and develop relationships with the outside world.
Further relying on Article 5 §§ 1 and 4 (right to liberty and security), he also claims that his seclusion amounted to a further deprivation of his liberty lacking any basis in law and without possibility of bringing an external appeal.
Lastly, Munjaz alleges that the Government’s policy of permitting each hospital to seclude its patients according to its own procedures led to patients being treated differently depending on the hospital in which they were detained, in breach of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Articles 3, 5 and 8.