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Jailed addicts suing government

By Abrad, May 12, 2006 | |
  1. Abrad
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4764597.stm

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    The prisoners claim their human rights were violated
    Drug-addicted prisoners who were forced to go "cold turkey" while in jail are suing the Home Office.

    Six test cases are due to go before the High Court which, if successful, could lead to 198 offenders - all addicted to opiates - seeking compensation.

    The claimants' lawyer said many had received treatment with methadone, a heroin substitute, but this was withdrawn when their sentences began.

    The Home Office said it was aware of the litigation.

    "We are aware of the ongoing litigation about drug withdrawal treatment that has been brought by a number of prisoners. We are unable to comment further on an ongoing case," said a spokesman.

    'Short, sharp detoxification'

    The Opiate Dependant Prison Litigation is expected go before the court on 13 November and is likely to focus on alleged deficiencies in the medical treatment of prisoners.

    The case will reportedly claim trespass - arguing the prisoners did not give consent for treatment - and criminal negligence.

    They are also claiming breaches of articles three and 14 of the Human Rights Convention, which ban discrimination, torture or inhuman/degrading treatment or punishment, as well as article eight, enshrining the right to respect for private life.

    Claims could also made against the private contractors running jails where 26 of the prisoners are or were being held.

    The claimants' lawyer, Richard Hermer, said they were upset at the short period they were allowed to continue using opiates once they were jailed.

    "Imposing the short, sharp detoxification is the issue," Mr Hermer told the Times.

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