Involuntary hospitalisation cannot be based on one expert statement or general knowledge about a diagnosis

The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic upheld the complaint of a person, who was involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where he was also subjected to physical and chemical restraints. The Constitutional Court found that his right to personal liberty was violated. The applicant was supported by the Forum for Human Rights with the assistance of the legal office of JUDr. Maroš Matiaško.

The applicant’s argumentation was based on the claim that his behaviour was not aggressive, and he could not cause any harm to other people or himself. Therefore, there was no reason to violate his constitutional rights to personal liberty and integrity. The general courts based their decision on general knowledge about applicant’s diagnosis (schizophrenia) and on the testimony of a doctor, who had decided about the admission to the facility. 

According to the judgement of the Constitutional Court, the conclusion about the legality of involuntary hospitalization cannot be based solely on general knowledge of certain diagnosis. 

On the contrary, the decisive factor is that a person directly and seriously endangers himself or herself or other people by his or her specific behaviour and that this risk cannot be prevented in less restrictive way. The Constitutional Court also stated that the general courts cannot rely on a statement of a single witness, which is not, moreover, supported by further evidence in the proceedings. 

The judgment of the Constitutional Court can be downloaded here (in Czech only).