The decision to place a person in a mental health care institution to conduct an assessment is a very serious restriction of physical liberty. It can result in serious anxiety and humiliation.

Human rights state that this is detention. Therefore, such a decision must be carefully considered and it must be lawful. Lawfulness means that the involuntary placement must be allowed by law and is executed in a non-arbitrary way. Whether the placement is truly necessary in the specific case and whether other ways of conducting the assessment are possible must always be considered.

Placement allowed by law

Lawfulness means that the law clearly explains the situations in which someone could be placed in a mental health care institution against his or her will. The law must explain both the grounds of such a placement and provide a fair and clear procedure.

In Latvia, a placement in a mental health care institution to conduct an assessment will be related to your criminal case. The decision must be made by the investigative judge or the court that considers your case. The grounds and the procedure for this placement is explained in the Criminal Procedure Law.

Non-arbitrary placement

Having a law and procedures in place does not always guarantee that the best decision regarding a placement is made. In addition to being allowed by law, the involuntary placement must not be arbitrary. To avoid situations of arbitrary placement, the following things should be considered:

  • the person is a suspect or an accused in a criminal offence
  • the assessment is important for the case
  • the assessment cannot be otherwise conducted
  • the person is not held longer than necessary for the purposes of the assessment and no longer than allowed for by law
  • the decision on compulsory placement must clearly state why the person’s condition requires the assessment in this particular form
  • the authorities must not act in bad faith - they must not have hidden or inappropriate reasons for your compulsory placement
  • you should be held in a place that is truly meant for conducting the requested assessment; in Latvia, this means a psychiatric hospital

What human rights violation may there be?

If your involuntary placement did not correspond with lawful grounds or did not comply with the procedural requirements set out in the Criminal Procedure Law, or was not properly conducted and adequately justified, it can result in a violation of the right to liberty and the security of a person.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education