O.G. vs. Läti
Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
The applicant, Mr. G., was tried for fraud. Because of his mental health problems he was relieved of criminal liability. As the court considered that he posed a danger to society his inpatient treatment in a psychiatric hospital was ordered. The applicant was not present in any of the several hearings in his case, but was represented by a court’s appointed representative. It is not clear whether he received the decisions of the court.
The applicant complained that he was not able to challenge the lawfulness of his detention, as required by Article 5(4) of the Convention
The Court emphasized that a patient compulsorily detained for psychiatric treatment must have the right to seek judicial review of his or her own motion. It noted that the situations can differ from case to case, but it must always be assessed whether the mental health of an individual is such as not to allow him to form an opinion about his hospitalization.
In the particular case, during the pre-trial stage the applicant was declared unable to participate in the investigation on which basis nine months later also the court decided that he does not need to participate in the hearing about his involuntary placement. His ability to participate in the court hearing was not re-evaluated by any experts. Because he did not attend the court hearings the applicant himself was deprived of the opportunity to directly complain about the legality of the order to admit him to a psychiatric hospital. The possibility to complain was left entirely at the discretion of the appointed counsel and out of control of the applicant himself. Even though the applicant had sent several complaints to different kind of instances of national courts they were essentially left without examination on the merits. The Court concluded that this situation amounted to the limitation of the applicant’s rights under Article 5(4) and therefore there has been a violation.