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CoE Committee of Ministers: nursing homes placement laws need to be amended

Last week, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers called on Poland to enforce the ECtHR judgments issued in the cases of Kędzior v. Poland and K.C. v. Poland. In both cases the ECtHR held that the Polish laws governing the procedure for placing legally incapacitated persons at state-operated nursing homes violated the Convention.

The Council noted that until the present day Polish authorities had not adopted effective measures in order to enforce the judgments, neither at an individual nor the general level. Despite the passage of several years from the entry of the judgement, both applicants remain at nursing homes. Moreover, S. Kędzior is not even able to apply to a court for a review of his situation. Referring to that, the Council asked Polish authorities to regularly review the reasonableness of the applicant’s further stay at the facility.

Commenting on the general measures, the Council pointed to the actions taken by the government in respect of disseminating the standards developed in the two ECtHR judgments among Polish judges. The Council underscored that while issuing a leave to commit an incapacitated person to a nursing home a court must consider whether the person’s state of mental health justifies the act of depriving them of their liberty.

Also the previous government developed draft legislative guidelines for a bill amending the rules for placing incapacitated persons at nursing homes, which would grant such persons more procedural rights. The Council delivered a favourable opinion on these plans, however it called on the Polish authorities to grant incapacitated persons the right to appeal against courts’ committal decisions. Moreover, the Council also called for the introduction of a mechanism of periodical judicial review of the reasonableness and legality of extended stay in such facilities.

The Council emphasised the need for immediate adoption of appropriate amendments to legal acts and called on the Polish government to present a detailed report on legislative actions and the expected date of enactment of new laws before 1 July 2016.

Both cases, Kędzior v. Poland and K.C. v. Poland, were conducted by the HFHR as part of the Strategic Litigation Programme. In July 2015, the HFHR informed the Committee of Ministers about the fact that Polish authorities were not enforcing the first judgement. To find out more about the statement, use this link.

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