Table 3: HIV, AIDS and the Right to Liberty and Security of the Person

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Government quarantines people living with HIV or detains them in special colonies.
  • Penal code imposes explicit prison term for intentional transmission of HIV.
  • Government requires HIV testing either for all individuals or as a condition of employment, immigration or military service.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
ICCPR 9: Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law. None
Human Rights Standards Case Law
ECHR 5(1): Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save [for those cases enumerated in this article and only in accordance with the law]. ECtHR: The Court held that the involuntary placement in the hospital of an HIV-positive gay man to prevent him from spreading HIV to others violated Art. 5. The Court found that the “compulsory isolation of the applicant was not a last resort in order to prevent him from spreading the HIV virus because less severe measures had not been considered and found to be insufficient to safeguard the public interest. Moreover, the Court considered that by extending over a period of almost seven years the order for the applicant’s compulsory isolation, with the result that he was placed involuntarily in a hospital for almost one and a half years in total, the authorities failed to strike a fair balance between the need to ensure that the HIV virus did not spread and the applicant’s right to liberty.” Enhorn v. Sweden, 56529/00 (January 25, 2005).

Other Interpretations 

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: expressed concern at the arbitrary detention of “drug addicts” and “people suffering from AIDS.” Recommended that persons deprived of their liberty on health grounds “must have judicial means of challenging their detention.” (2003)

Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (1979)

Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (1990)