Mr. Ernst Haas is suffering from bipolar disorder for the last 20 years. On July 1st 2004, he became a member of the NGO Dignitas in order to commit suicide. Then, he requested in vain from several psychiatrists to prescribe him the lethal drug pentobarbital sodium. On August 3rd 2005, the health department of the county of Zürich refused to deliver him this drug without prescription.
On November 17th 2005, the administrative tribunal of Zürich rejected his challenge of the decision of the health department. On December 20th 2005, the federal department of interior refused also to deliver him the lethal drug without prescription. On November 3rd 2006, the federal tribunal rejected his appeal and ruled that a mental health exam was required before prescribing the lethal drug.
On July 18th 2007, the applicant lodged his case to the Court arguing that that the refusal to deliver him the lethal drug without a prescription and a mental health exam was a violation of article 8 of the Convention. On October 16th 2008, the application was communicated to the agent of the Swiss government. On November 17th 2008, The NGO Dignitas submitted a brief amicus curiae to the Court (see below).
On January 20th 2011, the Court found no violation of article 8 of the Convention on the ground of the “margin of appreciation” and didn’t rule if States have a positive obligation to ensure that one can end his life with dignity. The appeal to the grand chamber was not accepted by the Court. The applicant was represented by Me Patrick Schaerz (Zürich) .