‘Treatment in Liberty’ Human Rights and Compulsory Detention for Drug Use

(March 2022)

Lines, R., Hannah, J. and Girelli, G.,Human Rights Law Review. Vol 22, Issue 1, March 2022

This is the first detailed examination of compulsory detention for ‘drug treatment’ through the lens of a rapidly evolving international legal framework. It is estimated that as many as half a million people worldwide are detained for the purpose of ‘drug treatment’, many held for months or years at a time without being charged criminally or being able to challenge the legality of their detention. This is therefore a key issue sitting at the intersection of human rights, drug policy and medical ethics. The article explores arbitrary detention and involuntary committal on medical grounds within international human rights law, as well as the historical-legal evolution of drug ‘treatment’ as the term is understood within international drug control law. It assesses whether drug use or drug dependency constitute a reasonable limitation of the right to liberty, and concludes that this type of detention represents a violation of international law. Read more