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   Case summaries      Keenan v UK 27229/95

Kennan v UK 27229/95 [2001] ECHR 242 European Court of Human Rights

The applicant's son committed suicide in prison at the age of 28. He had been diagnosed and was receiving treatment for schizophrenia from the age of 21. His medical history showed symptoms of paranoia, aggression, violence and self-harm including two attempted suicides. The applicant argued that the prison authorities failed to protect her son's right to life under Art 2 ECHR.


Art 2 ECHR imposes a positive obligation on the state to take preventative operational measures to protect an individual who's life is at risk even from self-harm. For a positive obligation to arise the authorities must have known or ought to have known at the time of the existence of a real and immediate risk to life of an identified individual. A violation of Art 2 will then occur if they fail to take preventative measures to stop the risk. In relation to the applicant's son, the authorities were aware of the risk but had put in place measures to prevent the risk as he was under daily medical supervision.

Back to lecture outline on Art 2 ECHR