Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
03.12.2002

Facts

The applicant, Ms. Nowicka, was accused of libel. During the trial she was ordered to undergo psychiatric examination. As she failed to attend two of the examinations ordered, the court issued her arrest warrant. Ms. Nowicka was arrested and detained. She was released the day after the expertise was conducted. The psychiatrists concluded that they could not make a diagnosis based on a single examination therefore the domestic court decided that Ms. Nowicka should undergo a psychiatric examination in a medical establishment. As Ms. Nowicka again failed to attend, she was arrested and transferred to prison. The further psychiatric examination started almost a month after she was arrested and altogether took a month and a week. The medical report concluded that she showed no signs of being mentally ill. She was released from the prison a week later. 

Complaint

Ms. Nowicka complained that her arrests and subsequent detentions were in breach of Article 5(1) of the Convention.

Court's ruling

The Court reiterated that for detention to be ‘lawful’, it must be in compliance with a procedure prescribed by law. As to the statements of the Government that the detention of Ms. Nowicka was necessary for the fulfillment of the court’s order, the Court noted that Article 5(1)(b) indeed provides such a ground for an arrest and detention, but as soon as the relevant obligation has been fulfilled, the basis for detention under this Article ceases to exist. The Court observed that the first examination of Ms. Nowicka was preceded by 8 days long detention and the second - by 27 days long detention. The Court considered that both periods of pre-examination detention could not be reconciled with the authorities\' desire to secure the immediate fulfilment of the applicant\'s obligation and, therefore, the authorities failed to draw a balance between the importance of securing the immediate fulfillment of the obligation in question, and the importance of the right to liberty. The Government had also failed to provide an explanation for Ms. Nowicka’s post-examination detention, which lasted for 1 and 8 days accordingly. Thus the Court ruled that there has been a violation of Article 5(1)(b) of the Convention.