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On October 22th 2008, Mr. Bertrand Rappaz was condemned to more than 5 years in jail for various offenses resulting from his activity as a farmer of marijuana. On March 2010, he was jailed at the prison des Iles in Sion.

A long time non violent and environment activist, he began an hunger strike to protest against the criminalization of the farming of marijuana and its lengthy sentence. Following a deterioration of his health, he made several requests for his sentence to be temporarily suspended for health reason (art. 92 of penal code).

He was temporarily released 2 times, and stopped his hunger strike. Once jailed again, he started a new hunger strike and was hospitalized in the penitentiary wing of the university hospital of Geneva.

On November 10th 2010, a judge ordered Dr. Hans Wolff, head of the penitentiary wing to practice forced feeding on the applicant but the doctor refused to carry it out.

On December 7th 2010, his last request (6B_1022/2010) was rejected by the federal tribunal on the ground that the “medical treatment” that he could receive will be the same whether he is detained or free. The tribunal didn’t take  into account that the detained applicant was on hunger strike to protest against his detention and that Dr. Hans Wolff refused to carry out forced feeding. Moreover the ruling didn’t specify what kind of “medical treatment” the applicant could receive.

Swiss doctors and nurses associations already alerted that the forced feeding of a hunger strike patient is against the international ethics standard set by the World Medical Association (Declaration of Malta).

On December 14th 2010, the applicant filed an urgent motion under article 39  [fr],  requesting that the Court order the Swiss government to temporarily suspend his sentence pending the decision of the Court. The applicant complained that the refusal to suspend his sentence was a violation of articles 2 and 3 of the Convention.

On December 16th 2010, Judge Christos Rozakis refused to grant the request. Surprisingly, Judge Christos Rozakis officially requested the applicant to stop his hunger strike thereby renouncing to his right to freedom of expression (art.10). Both decisions were unmotivated and the name of the judge is not revealed (see below).  The applicant is represented by Me Aba Neeman (Monthey).

Following the decision of the Court, the applicant ceased his hunger strike and filed a complain for damages for his condition of detention in the penitentiary wing.


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