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Doctors must force feed hunger strikers

The Federal Court has insisted that doctors must force feed hunger-striking prisoners if ordered to do so by the authorities.

On Monday, the court published the reasoning behind its decision in the case of marijuana farmer Bernard Rappaz. In late August the court ruled that the authorities had the right to order force feeding to prevent permanent health damage or death.

While the court has found that the law is more important than medical ethics, doctors strongly disapprove of feeding a patient against his will.

Various Swiss doctors’ associations have stated that force feeding violates the rights of patients – therefore violating the basic ethics of medicine.

Rappaz is serving a prison term of five years and eight months for cannabis dealing and other offences. He was in hospital after a hunger strike this summer and was later placed under house arrest before an appeal at the Federal Court was rejected.

He was subsequently returned to prison, but had to be hospitalised again in mid-October as a result of hypoglycemia.

swissinfo and agencies

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