Protection of the Right to Life in Prison
The right to life is essentially bound up with the darkest – and perhaps most disturbing – sides of prison: use of force, violent deaths and suicides, and the need for swift medical aid in the event of injury after violence or malady in prison. With regard to the right to life, the state applies two categories of obligations. Firstly, the state has negative obligations that can be drawn directly from the wording of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under the negative obligations, the state must refrain from doing things that would endanger a prisoner’s life; for example, it must not employ non-proportional force. Secondly, the state has several positive obligations, not enumerated in Article 2. Under the positive obligations, it is not enough for the state to be passive and not violate the right to life; the state also has to take actions, such as establishing suicide prevention mechanisms in prisons. In addition, the positive obligations are more complex, because they include additional subcategories of duties, among them material and procedural obligations. Since the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights is vast and the principles scattered across numerous judgements, the aim behind the article is to build a clear conceptualisation covering the various aspects of this fundamental right.