Psychiatric evaluation and confinement in a psychiatric hospital without consent.
D.R. v. Lithuania 26.06.2018 (no. 691/15)
Complaint for referral to psychiatric assessment and imprisonment in a psychiatric hospital unintentionally. Ignorance of reasons that led to an assessment of the mental state and illegal hospitalization because the domestic courts did not examine in person. Infringement of Article 5 § 1 (Freedom and Security) due to deprivation of liberty for the purposes of psychiatric assessment and hospitalization.
Article 5 § 1
The applicant, Ms D.R., is a Lithuanian national who was born in 1958 and lives in the Tauragė region (Lithuania). She has a history of mental illness.
The case concerned her complaint that she had been taken for a psychiatric assessment and committed to a psychiatric hospital for one year against her will.
Proceedings were brought against her in 2013 for spraying a local teenager with tear gas. Given her medical history, the courts ordered a psychiatric assessment. The police enforced this order in April 2014. They drove her to a psychiatric centre in Klaipėda, having to handcuff her because she had struggled to get away. She was examined by two psychiatrists who concluded that she had a chronic mental disorder and recommended that she be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for compulsory inpatient treatment.
Referring to this psychiatric assessment in a judgment of July 2014, the Tauragė District Court found that the applicant could not be held criminally responsible for the tear gas incident and ordered her committal to a psychiatric hospital. The applicant appealed, complaining that the court had not heard her in person, had not ordered a fresh psychiatric assessment, despite the fact that she had been voluntarily undergoing outpatient treatment since June 2014, and had not assessed whether she posed a danger to society. She also complained about the police having taken her for psychiatric assessment without her consent. Her appeal was dismissed, the regional court essentially referring to the psychiatric assessment and finding that the applicant could not understand the danger posed by her medical condition or the need for treatment.
She was subsequently hospitalised for one year from November 2014.
The applicant made two complaints under Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights. First, she complained that the police had unlawfully deprived her of her liberty when taking her for the psychiatric assessment, arguing that she had not seen the court order and had had no idea of the reasons for it. Secondly, she alleged that her committal to a psychiatric hospital had also been unlawful, in particular because the domestic courts had not examined her in person.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 5 § 1 – on account of the deprivation of Ms D.R.’s liberty for the purpose of conducting a psychiatric assessment
Violation of Article 5 § 1 –on account of Ms D.R.’s involuntary psychiatric hospitalisation
Just satisfaction: 7,500 euros (EUR) (non-pecuniary damage)(echrcaselaw.com editing).