Raudevs v. Latvia
European Court of Human Rights
17 December 2013
The applicant, Mr. Raudevs, by a judgment delivered in January 2003 was found guilty of defamation of State officials. But, as he suffered from mental illness, the court ordered that he should undergo compulsory medical treatment in a secure psychiatric hospital. Mr. Raudevs was not, however, confined for treatment straight after the judgment. In October 2003 the Latvian Constitutional Court found the imposition of criminal liability for the defamation of State officials to be unconstitutional. Yet on 30 July 2004 an order was issued for Mr. Raudevs’ confinement, and police took him to a psychiatric hospital later that day. He immediately complained that the law, which had led to his confinement order was no longer in force. At first the prosecutor upheld his detention as lawful, but on 24 September 2004 the Latvian courts revoked the decision ordering Mr. Raudevs’ confinement, and he was released the same day.
Mr. Raudevs complained that the decision by which he had been ordered to undergo compulsory medical treatment in a psychiatric hospital, had been unlawful. He stated, firstly, that he had never suffered from a mental illness, and, secondly, that the decision had lost its force on account of legislative amendments.
The Court could not find any explanation why the execution of the order and the applicant’s subsequent detention in a psychiatric hospital was carried out more than a year and six months after the final decision ordering his inpatient treatment came into effect. The Court noted that if the measure is not carried out immediately, in order for it to be lawful in the light of Article 5 of the Convention, there has to be an opportunity to re-acquire an assessment to verify the necessity of medical confinement within a reasonable time before its execution. In the instant case such an assessment was not made.
Moreover, at the time when the applicant was detained the legal provision which had formed basis of the applicant’s criminal proceedings and accordingly his involuntary placement has become unconstitutional, therefore there was no longer a legal ground for such placement.
Thus the Court found that the detention of Mr. Raudevs was carried out contrary to Article 5(1)(e) of the Convention.