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HFHR: Detention at the National Centre in Gostynin after serving a prison sentence found in breach of the Constitution

Placing inmates who served their sentences at the national centre in Gostynin pursuant to the law passed as a follow-up to the case of Mariusz T. is a disproportionate restriction of personal freedom under the Constitution, reads the amicus curiae brief filed by the HFHR to the Constitutional Tribunal.

Requests for a constitutional review were filed both by the President and by the Human Rights Defender. Furthermore, courts that review cases under the new Act on proceedings against mentally disturbed persons who pose a threat to life, health or sexual liberty of others also sent two questions of law to the Constitutional Tribunal.

In the brief, the HFHR analysed the course of the legislative process that led to the enactment of the law that allowed placing inmates who served their prison sentence, at the National Centre for the Prevention of Dissociative Behaviour in Gostynin. The original intention of the Ministry of Justice was to amend the principles of giving verdicts on protective measures against individuals who are still considered a threat despite having served their sentence.

“The conclusion from the analysis of the legislative process is that the regulations on isolation at the National Centre are close to the regulations in the Criminal Code which set out the protective measures”, says Barbara Grabowska-Moroz, a lawyer working with the HFHR. “The Foundation is of the view that such confinement, when imposed at the end of serving a prison sentence, is in violation of the Constitution”, adds Ms Grabowska-Moroz.

Up until 1 July 2015 (when the said law was passed), protective measures, such as placement in a psychiatric centre, were imposed instead a penalty rather than in addition to the penalty. There was one exception to that rule – confinement after serving a sentence was possible only if such verdict was given along with the sentence, not at the end of serving the sentence. Hence, the law is a way to circumvent the existing restrictions relating to incarceration in the form of protective measures.

There are also other doubts regarding the law’s constitutionality, including those regarding the language of the provisions of the law and how precise they are, especially the terms such as the “high” and “very high” probability of committing a criminal offence in the future. The judicial decisions of the courts confirm that there is no uniform interpretation of those terms.

According to the information provided by the Ministry of Justice, up until September 2015 there had been 15 legally binding decisions on placing individuals who were considered a threat at the National Centre in Gostynin.

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