Human rights court condemns France over disabled prisoner

European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg.
European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg. © CherryX/(CC)/Wikimédia

The European Court of Human Rights condemned France on Thursday for failing to provide proper care for a prisoner who is severely disabled.


Mohammed Helhal, who is serving a 30 year sentence for murder and attempted murder in a jail near Poitiers in southwest France, is now paraplegic and incontinent following a fall in an attempted escape from the prison in March 2006.

His lawyers said he did not receive adequate physiotherapy and was humiliated because he had to be helped by his cellmate for intimate needs.

His request to have his sentence suspended for medical reasons was refused in 2010, a decision confirmed the following year by a higher authority.

The Strasbourg court ruled on Thursday that his continued detention was not incompatible with his disabilities but that the “national authorities [had] not done everything that could be demanded of them to give M. Helhal the treatment he needed.”

“The absence or inadequacy of care, and the fact that he had to be helped by another prisoner to take a shower, subjected him to a level of suffering beyond that which is inherent in the deprivation of liberty”, the judges concluded.

France was ordered to pay 7,000 euros in damages to the prisoner.

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