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HFHR intervenes on behalf of inmate of Gostynin psychiatric facility

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has sent an intervention letter to the head of the National Centre for the Prevention of Dissocial Behaviours (NCPDB) asking for information on the actions taken by the Centre administrators to ensure the safety of a woman involuntarily placed in this facility.

The letter was inspired by the article “Dobra i zła Janinka. Dlaczego państwo zawiodło obie” (The good and bad Janinka. Why did the state fail both?), which was published last Monday by the Onet news portal. It describes the story of Janina, the only female inmate of the NCPDB. According to the article, there are very serious doubts as to whether Janina should at all be kept at the Centre, since, as the Centre’s own doctors say, she suffers from schizophrenia and should be treated in a psychiatric hospital. Furthermore, as the only woman detained at the NCPDB, she encounters inappropriate behaviour from other inmates, which offends her dignity and makes her feel threatened.

In its letter, the Foundation emphasises that NCPDB administrators are obliged by the Constitution and international law to ensure that the woman is safe and protected from undesirable behaviour on the part of others. This obligation is particularly relevant in the present case, as Janina resides in a co-ed ward and may be exposed to sexual harassment and other acts of violence perpetrated by male patients. The HFHR also underlined that the NCPDB is legally designated as a therapeutic facility and that it is unacceptable for placement at such a facility to be associated with physical and mental suffering, which may negate all the positive effects of the therapy conducted on-site.

In connection with the above, the Foundation asked the head of the NCPDB to provide information on the actions taken to ensure the safety of the woman. In particular, the HFHR has asked if the inmate is provided with adequate psychological support in response to the behaviour of other detainees and if any acts of disrespectful and sexist harassment from other detainees are met with an immediate reaction from the Centre’s personnel. Moreover, the Foundation asked the NCPDB head if, in his opinion, the home rules and regulations in force at the facility sufficiently take into account the specific needs of women inmates and ensure that they are effectively protected against threats posed by male inmates.

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