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Persons in pre-trial detention have equal right to psychiatric treatment: another HFHR intervention

The HFHR has intervened in the case of Daniel, who is currently detained pending trial.

Daniel suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and has a disability certificate. Let us remind the readers that the HFHR has already assisted Daniel as he served a prison term of nine months (to find out more, click here). The HFHR filed an application to the ECtHR on his behalf, in which we alleged that Poland had failed to ensure the inmate proper conditions of incarceration, which should have been adjusted to his psychiatric condition (more information about the case can be obtained here).

Pre-trial detention

Daniel was detained pending another trial in late February 2017. His letter to the HFHR indicates significant deterioration of his condition. He complained that the world around him is “unreal” because he was given poison in drugs and food. After his mental health deteriorated, Daniel was transferred to another penitentiary facility, where he refused to take medication and meals. He wrote he was treating his condition on his own because his pills were poisoned. He also claimed he was targeted by secret services, which were to murder his family several months ago and feared he was going to be moved to another prison, where “his path” would “end”.

After he refused drugs and food, Daniel was transferred to a psychiatric ward in another prison. As he wrote in a letter, he decided to continue the hunger strike and refuse medication because he was threatened into submission by prison staff. Daniel also informed that he officially complained against prison administration, who denied him meaningful access to a defence lawyer, which limited his right to a defence. He emphasised he had an appropriate authorisation to contact his attorney.

HFHR intervention

In its intervention letter, the HFHR noted its long-standing involvement in Daniel’s case and the ECtHR application. “We also expressed our concern over a distinctive deterioration of Daniel’s health, which resulted from his pre-trial detention”, HFHR lawyer Piotr Kubaszewski says. “We indicated that treatment of paranoid schizophrenia should be comprehensive and cover not only pharmacotherapy but also psychoeducation, psychotherapy, occupational therapy and other forms of treatment. The treatment of schizophrenia is time-consuming and usually must be continued over a patient’s lifetime”, Mr Kubaszewski emphasises.

“In our assessment, and considering how a proper schizophrenia treatment process should look like, it is impossible to provide Daniel appropriate medical care in the conditions of pre-trial detention”, notes Adam Klepczyński, another lawyer working with the HFHR.

The HFHR asked the prison governor in writing whether Daniel can receive effective treatment on site, inquiring in particular if his further pre-trial detention is likely to cause material deterioration of his mental health. We also suggested that the governor should consider submitting a motion to release Daniel from pre-trial detention so that he can undertake an effective treatment at a proper medical facility. Finally, we asked the prison whether Daniel was given access to a defence lawyer.

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