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Polish Government admits unlawful detention

The European Court of Human Rights has considered the application filed by Łukasz, who sought remedies against the unreasonable extension of his involuntary committal to a psychiatric hospital, ordered in spite of his doctors’ recommendation of outpatient care.

Favourable opinions of experts

Łukasz was charged with a criminal offence. A court ordered the protective measure in the form of an involuntary committal to a psychiatric hospital. In August 2014, a court ruled that Łukasz was not guilty by reasons of insanity.

Two months later, two psychiatrists and a psychologist evaluated the applicant and issued an opinion, according to which the man’s mental health improved. The experts also stated that Łukasz is unlikely to commit similar acts in the future. Finally, they assessed that Łukasz should be placed in outpatient care, rather than treated on an inpatient basis.

The man’s closest family, heard by a regional court in December 2014, agreed to take care of Łukasz after his release from a psychiatric hospital and assist him in further treatment. However, the court decided to ask for an additional opinion of another panel of two psychiatrists and a psychologist, which was given in March 2015. The new opinion stated that Łukasz’ schizophrenia is in remission and confirmed the previous diagnosis. Moreover, the experts noted that support offered by the applicant’s family during his treatment could have a positive effect on the applicant and reduce the risk of him committing similar offences in future. A month later, doctors from the psychiatric hospital in which Łukasz stayed issued another positive opinion on the patient, emphasising that he was fully cooperating with medical personnel.

Court’s decision

Notwithstanding the above, the regional court, after another hearing of the family, did not approve Łukasz’ release from the psychiatric hospital. The court justified its decision by pointing to the fact that family members also underwent psychiatric treatment, which, in the court’s assessment, means that they are incapable of providing full care to the applicant. This decision contravened a positive opinion of the re-appointed experts.

Łukasz appealed against the decision of the regional court. However, a court of appeal rejected his arguments and upheld the decision of the regional court. At that point, Łukasz decided to file an application to the ECtHR.

Government’s unilateral declaration before ECtHR

The Strasbourg Court accepted a unilateral declaration of the Polish Government in which the authorities acknowledged that Łukasz’ case had involved unlawful deprivation of liberty from October 2014 to his release from the hospital in December 2015. Poland agreed to pay to the applicant the sum of PLN 25,000.

The HFHR filed represented the applicant in the proceedings before the ECtHR.


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