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Court: Complaint against minor’s psychiatric committal granted

The Regional Court in Warsaw reversed an interim psychiatric committal order issued against a minor who was to be placed at a high security psychiatric ward. The Court also ordered that the minor be released from the facility.

The case concerns a 15-year-old boy suffering from the Asperger syndrome. The boy stands accused of multiple juvenile justice offences before a Family Court.

During the proceedings, the Court issued an interim psychiatric committal order and placed the boy at a psychiatric ward which is located about 300 kilometres from his family home. At the time when the order was issued, the boy had no legal representation.

His mother filed a complaint against the Family Court’s order, which was later amended by Bogumił Zygmont, a lawyer who agreed to represent the accused as courtesy to the HFHR. Finally, the boy was taken to the ward by the Police.

It took two months for the trial court to deliver the complaint against the committal order to the appellate court. Another two months passed before the appellate court considered the complaint. In consequence, the boy had been staying in the ward between October 2014 and the end of February 2015.

The case rises considerable doubts regarding the rules that govern the works of the juvenile justice system. International standards developed by the UN and the Council of Europe emphasise that juvenile justice proceedings are of a distinctive nature and as such should be governed, first and foremost, by the best interests of the child and the proportionality principle. All proceedings of the kind must comply with the reliability criterion, too. All international instruments point out that such measures as detention of a minor should be ordered for the shortest possible period and exclusively as a measure of last resort.

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