Bureš v. the Czech Republic

European Court of Human Rights
18 October 2012


The applicant, Mr. Bureš, was suffering from psychological disorders and used medicine for that. He overdosed the medicine and therefore went to the shop without pants. He was stopped by the police who took him to the psychiatric hospital. The hospital sent him to the sobering-up center where the applicant spent the night strapped to the bed.


Mr. Bureš complained that he had been ill-treated in the sobering-up centre in violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

Court’s ruling

General principles:

Regarding the use of restraining belts, the Court accepted that aggressive behaviour on the part of an intoxicated individual may require recourse to the use of restraining belts, provided that checks are periodically carried out on the welfare of the immobilised individual. The application of such restraints must, however, be necessary under the circumstances and its length must not be excessive. The Court continued by stating that as a general rule, a measure which is a therapeutic necessity cannot be regarded as inhumane or degrading. However, using restraints is a serious measure which must always be justified by preventing imminent harm to the patient or the surroundings and must be proportionate to such an aim. The Court emphasized that in cases like this the special vulnerability of mentally ill persons had to be taken into account. Mere restlessness cannot therefore justify strapping a person to a bed for prolonged periods.

In the present case:

In the present case the Court found that the restraints used were not necessary as nothing indicated that Mr. Bureš had showed any signs of aggression but mere restlessness. Additionally, the restraints have injured him permanently. The Court condemned the fact that no other means of calming down Mr. Bureš had been considered. Because of these reasons the Court ruled that Mr. Bureš had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention.

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Last updated 08/11/2023