Joint statement by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” concerning the forced hospitalization of Ihar Pastnou
Minsk, 2 September 2013
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights Center " Viasna" are concerned about the forced hospitalization of Ihar Pastnou.
On 21 August 2013 the Vitsebsk region and district court in closed session granted the solicitation of the Vitsebsk regional clynical center of psychiatry and narcology about the forced hospitalization and medical treatment of Ihar Pastnou.
However, the case was considered in his absence. The court verdict doesn't contain sufficient grounding of the impossibility of his participation in the trial, there is only a formal reason, provided by Article 391, part 3 of the Civil Process Code, which gives the opportunity to consider a case in the absence of a citizen – the state of his health.
That's why it is necessary to point that the participation of a citizen in the court consideration of a case concerning the limitation of one's rights andliberties, when he ccan provide to the court arguments in his defense, is the most important guarantee of a fair trial. It is especially important in thecases, when the court considers the issue of the restriction of the citizen's freedom.
Our concern is caused by the fact that forced hospitalization and medical treatment were used towards Ihar Pastnou after he exercized criticism about the state of medicine in the Vitsebsk region and pointed at violations of the law by the heads of the medical institutions. Moreover, the petition for the involuntary hospitalization was filed by the chief physician of the Vitsebsk regional clinical center of psychiatry and narcology, which actions were also criticized by Ihar Pastnou.
According to part 1 of Article 392 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the court's decision on involuntary hospitalization must be justified , since it is a limitation of basic rights and freedoms. However, the judgment does not contain any convincing arguments as to the need for involuntary hospitalization. According to Part 2 of Article 36 of the Law "On psychiatric care", the court can issue a ruling for involuntary hospitalization and medical treatment if a person suffers from a psychical illness, but evades from medical treatment, in the state which predetermines:
- it's immediate danger for itself or other people;
- the possibility of inflicting considerable harm to its health due to the deterioration of the state of psychical health, if such person is left without psychiatric support.
An important condition for issuing a ruling on involuntary hospitalization is the evasion of the person from medical treatment. This fact must be checked by the court by summoning and interrogation of the persons who can confirm the fact of evasion of a citizen from medical treatment. As it can been seen from the court ruling, it wasn't done.
The decision does not specify exactly what is the immediate danger of Pastnou to himself and why leaving him without medical assistance can cause a considerable harm to his health.
The solution of these issues is an important safeguard for the rights and freedoms of citizens during the procedure of involuntary hospitalization.
Holding the trial behind closed doors without sufficient justification is contrary to the principle of transparency in the administration of justice and of itself is a violation of the right to a fair trial.
It is clear that the violation of the rights of Ihar Pastnou to a fair trial has caused the violation of his right to personal integrity.
These actions, in addition to all, violate the guarantee of freedom of opinion and freedom of expression.
We call on the authorities to immediately release Ihar Pastnou from the psychiatric hospital and review the decision on his involuntary hospitalization in an open trial in compliance with established procedures and principles of a fair trial.