Restraint bed and compensation form the authorities

A.L.A., v. Denmark in the ECHR in a violation of art. 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The author A.L.A, Danish national, born in 1985. He suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and was sentenced in 2005 to committal to a psychiatric hospital following five incidents of violence against government officials.
Being in the sentence, the chief doctor of the hospital took the decision to strap A.L.A. to a restraint bed after he had made threats against a doctor. Taking into account previous assaults on staff and patients, A.L.A. was considered as a person, representing a danger, the doctor revoked his day release and ordered the restraining measures. From time to time, the author was released but then maintained the restraining measures again.

A.L.A. complained to various administrative and judicial bodies. During the judicial review the courts heard the applicant, the chief doctor and a healthcare assistant and took into account his daily records, as well as a report by the Medico-Legal Council. Ultimately, in 2017, the domestic courts found that the measures against the applicant had been necessary in order to avoid an imminent danger to himself or others, and that no less intrusive measures had been possible. They were also satisfied that medical staff, a healthcare assistant and four doctors, had sufficiently assessed whether the restraint still needed to be continued. The applicant’s sentence was revoked in 2018
A.L.A. argued that there had been no imminent danger requiring physical restraint, that the measures should only have been used as a last resort after all other reasonable options had been exhausted, and that he had been restrained longer than had been strictly necessary. The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 13 September 2018.
Decision ECHR: unanimous decision that there had been a violation of Article 3 on the following arguments:
– the domestic courts had failed to address several issues in so far as the continuation and duration of the measure was concerned;
– a duty doctor had continued the measure throughout the night despite having found the applicant calm four hours earlier;
– there had also been a one and half hour delay in releasing him from the restraint bed the next day;
– the measures had not respected the applicant’s human dignity and had not exposed him to pain and suffering;
The Court also held that Denmark had to pay A.L.A. 10,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 4,000 in respect of costs and expenses.

15. November 2023

HUDOC 45439-18