María José Cabezudo on ECHR 2 May 2013, Petukhova v. Russia: involuntary psychiatric examination – examen psiquiátrico forzado

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Petukhova v. Russia (application no. 28796/07) Press release

El TEDH condena a Rusia por violación del art. 5.1 del CEDH que proclama el derecho a la libertad y seguridad. En concreto dicho precepto establece que “Nadie puede ser privado de su libertad, salvo que el sujeto haya sido detenido preventivamente o internado, conforme a derecho, por desobediencia a una orden judicial o para asegurar el cumplimiento de una obligación establecida por la Ley.

De acuerdo con los hechos enjuiciados, el Tribunal de Estrasburgo se pregunta si ha habido desobediencia a una orden judicial de examen psiquiátrico que justifique la privación de libertad a la que se sometió a la demandante previa a su traslado al hospital para ejecutar dicha orden y efectuar el mencionado examen médico. El TEDH considera que la demandante no había desobedecido la orden judicial porque, ni fue informada de ella (se acuerda en una audiencia en su ausencia), ni se le dio la oportunidad de cumplir voluntariamente con la resolución (una vez detenida en Comisaria es trasladada al hospital y es entonces cuando se le notifica la orden). En consecuencia, considera la detención como ilegal. Además, considera ilegal la orden judicial por la que se autoriza el examen psiquiátrico porque los tribunales rusos no pudieron examinar si la demandante hubiera prestado su consentimiento al examen, dado que no le fue solicitado previamente.

María José Cabezudo Bajo, Profesora Titular Acreditada de Derecho Procesal en la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia.

Muchas gracias, María José, por esta interesante exposición.

Russian authorities should not have authorised the involuntary psychiatric examination of a schizophrenic

“In today’s Chamber judgment (2 May 2013) in the case of Petukhova v. Russia (application no. 28796/07), which is not final1, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned a Russian national who complained in particular that she had been unlawfully held in police custody before being transferred to hospital for an involuntary psychiatric examination.

Given that the Russian courts had failed to review whether the applicant had indeed refused to have a psychiatric examination, the Court considered that the order authorising her involuntary psychiatric examination had been unlawful. It further held that, since the applicant had neither been informed about the order nor given an opportunity to comply with it, her detention at the police station prior to her transfer to the hospital for involuntary examination had been inconsistent with one of the exceptions set out under Article 5 § 1 (b), which allowed deprivation of liberty in order to ensure compliance with “a lawful order of a court”. Her complaint concerning her involuntary hospitalisation was declared inadmissible.

Principal facts

The applicant, Alla Yakovlevna Petukhova, is a Russian national who was born in 1937 and lives in Moscow.

In January 2006 the police requested a psychoneurological clinic to carry out a psychiatric examination of Ms Petukhova following complaints received from her neighbours about her shouting, walking naked in the street and accusing them of various offences.

Seven months later, relying exclusively on the evidence presented by the police, a psychiatrist at the clinic filed an application with the Russian courts seeking authorisation for an involuntary psychiatric examination. His request was granted in Ms Petukhova’s absence following a hearing on 18 August 2006. Three months later on 1 December 2006, at the request of the clinic, Ms Petukhova was visited by police officers and taken to a police station. After spending 4 hours there she was transferred to a psychiatric hospital where she was eventually informed about the court order. She was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Once she had been released, Ms Petukhova appealed against the decision authorising her involuntary psychiatric examination before the Russian courts, which dismissed her appeal and upheld the authorisation” (from the Press Release).

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