Case of European Court of Human Rights, September 18, 2012 (case S.R. v. the Netherlands (dec.))

Resolution Date:September 18, 2012



Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 155

August-September 2012

S.R. v. the Netherlands (dec.) - 13837/07

Decision 18.9.2012 [Section III]

Article 5

Article 5-1-e

Persons of unsound mind

Court order for admission to psychiatric hospital for observation owing to concerns about applicant’s mental state: inadmissible

Article 5-4

Review of lawfulness of detention

Supreme Court decision declaring appeal against observation order inadmissible but nevertheless addressing the merits: inadmissible

Facts – In July 2006 a public prosecutor submitted a request, supported by a psychiatric report, for provisional authorisation for the applicant’s committal to a psychiatric hospital. The Regional Court rejected that request and made an observation order instead, pursuant to which the applicant was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The applicant appealed to the Supreme Court on points of law, inter alia, on the grounds that she had not been heard by the Regional Court before the observation order was issued and that Article 5 § 1 (e) of the Convention did not permit the detention of persons purely for observation for the purposes of determining whether they were of unsound mind. She left hospital three weeks after her admission. The Supreme Court subsequently declared her appeal inadmissible for lack of interest as the observation order had already lapsed. However, in view of the relevance of the legal questions raised, it nonetheless addressed the merits of a number of her grounds of appeal.

Law – Article 5 § 1: A medical report drawn up by a qualified practitioner not involved in the applicant’s existing treatment had been available to the Regional Court and the Court was not disposed to doubt that it reflected genuine concerns that the applicant’s mental state was such as to justify at least her detention for a limited period so as to make sure. The fact that the applicant was released after three weeks’ observation and that her mental condition was never determined to be dangerous could not be decisive. The Court had previously interpreted Article 5 § 1 (e) so as to allow the detention of persons who had abused alcohol and whose resulting behaviour gave rise to genuine concern for public order and for their own safety. The same applied to persons in respect of whom there was...

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