The ECHR judgment of 18 July 2017 in the case of "Roman (Rooman) v. Belgium" (application No. 18052/11).
In 2011, the applicant was assisted in preparing the application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to Belgium.
The applicant successfully complained about the failure to provide him with psychiatric assistance as a prisoner due to the lack of medical personnel speaking the official language of the respondent State. There has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant, suffering from a serious mental illness that did not allow him to control his actions, since 2004 was kept in a specialized institution where German-speaking personnel were absent, while the applicant himself could speak only German (in one of the three official languages of Belgium).
The Council on Mental Health several times admitted that as a result of the language difficulties with which the complainant encountered in communication, he was in fact deprived of the treatment of his mental illnesses (making it impossible for him to be released), and the Council's recommendations were enforced by the authorities only in limited or out of time. The competent judicial authority reached a similar conclusion in 2014.
ISSUES OF LAW
Concerning compliance with Article 3 of the Convention. The argument that there is no causal link between the absence of German-speaking medical personnel and the difficulties in treatment should be rejected, since all evidence, on the contrary, indicates that the main reason for the lack of therapeutic assistance in the treatment of the applicant's mental illness was the impossibility of his communication with medical personnel.
The measures taken by the social protection bodies to find a solution in the applicant's case were diminished by the authorities' inactivity: only in 2014, with the appearance of a German-speaking psychologist (which seems to have ceased at the end of 2015), the practical measures recommended for years have been implemented. Other contacts of the applicant with qualified German-speaking personnel (experts, nurse and social worker) did not pursue a therapeutic purpose.
Taking into account the fact that German is one of the official languages of Belgium, such a shortcoming should be seen as an avoidance of providing adequate care in the applicant's condition. Whatever obstacles the applicant created by his conduct, they did not exempt the state from compliance with its obligations.
The applicant's continued detention in the absence of adequate medical support for 13 years, in addition to two periods when he had access to a German-speaking psychologist (from May to November 2010 and from July 2014 to the end of 2015), and in the absence of a realistic prospect, changes exceeded the inevitable the level of suffering inherent in detention, which amounted to degrading treatment.
The violation of the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention (unanimously) was committed in the case.
Concerning compliance with article 5, paragraph 1, of the Convention. Notwithstanding the conclusion of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention that the applicant was not provided with adequate care and the length of such a state of affairs (13 years), the deprivation of his liberty was lawful in the light of the criteria established in the Court's case-law in accordance with subparagraph "e" of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention:
- this institution of social protection was, in principle, appropriately adapted for the state of its mental health and degree of danger;
- there is still a connection between the grounds for the applicant's detention and his mental health (since the grounds for avoiding appropriate care were not related to the real nature of the detention facility, this connection was not violated).
In the case, the requirements of Article 5 of the Convention were not violated (adopted by six votes "for" at one - "against").
In the application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded the applicant EUR 15,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, the claim for compensation for pecuniary damage was rejected.