Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 183
Constancia v. the Netherlands (dec.) - 73560/12
Decision 3.3.2015 [Section III] See:  ECHR 397
Persons of unsound mind
Detention as a person of “unsound mind” in the absence of a precise diagnosis of mental state: inadmissible
Lawful arrest or detention
Detention and preventive measures in the absence of reasonable suspicion of an offence: violation
Facts - The applicant was prosecuted for manslaughter following the death of a pupil in a primary school in 2006. In the ensuing criminal proceedings he refused to cooperate in any examination of his mental state, so that no diagnosis of his mental condition was possible. The domestic courts nonetheless found him to be severely disturbed and imposed a 12-year prison sentence followed by detention as a person of “unsound mind” (“TBS order”). The sentence was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012.
Law - Article 5 § 1 (e): When considering the applicant as a person of “unsound mind”, the domestic courts relied on a number of reports prepared by psychiatrists and psychologists as well as a report based on the criminal file and the audio and audio-visual recordings of interrogations. Although the doctors had been unable to establish a precise diagnosis, they had nevertheless considered that the applicant was severely disturbed, which view the court of appeal found reinforced by its own investigation of the case file. The Court accepted that, faced as they had been with the applicant’s complete refusal to cooperate in any examination of his mental state at any relevant time, the domestic courts had been entitled to conclude from the information thus obtained that the applicant was suffering from a genuine mental disorder which, whatever its precise nature, was of a kind or degree that warranted compulsory confinement.
The link between the original conviction and the measure involving the applicant’s confinement in a custodial clinic, required for Article 5 § 1 (a) to continue to apply, could eventually be broken if future decisions in this respect did not rely on grounds that were consistent with the objectives of the sentencing court. In those circumstances, a detention that was lawful at the outset would be transformed into an arbitrary deprivation of liberty incompatible with Article 5.
Conclusion: inadmissible (manifestly ill-founded).
© Council of Europe/European Court of Human Rights
This summary by the Registry does not bind the Court.
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