Strasbourg brings to the fore Albanian structural problems regarding the treatment of mentally ill persons deprived of their liberty
In the judgment in the case of Strazimiri v. Albania, released today, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found several breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), namely of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), and Article 5 (right to liberty and security, right to have the lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court, and right to compensation). The case concerned the detention of a man, who had been exempted from criminal responsibility due to his mental illness, in a prison rather than a medical institution.
In this Chamber judgment, the ECtHR expressly noted that there had been ‘a longstanding failure’ by the Albanian authorities to set up a special medical institution for mentally ill persons deprived of their liberty on the strength of court-ordered compulsory treatment, which ‘is indicative of a structural problem that appears to remain unaddressed’.
Specifically, the Strasbourg-based Court considered that Article 3 ECHR had been violated because of both the inadequate living conditions in the prison hospital and insufficient psychiatric care. In turn, violation of Article 5 ECHR arose from the continued deprivation of liberty in a prison rather than a medical institution and from the excessive amount of time during which the appeal against detention had been pending.
The full text of the judgment is available here.