Herczegfalvy v Austria (Series A, Volume 242-B; Application No 10533/83) EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS (1993) 15 EHRR 437, 24 SEPTEMBER 1992

Deprivation of liberty, interference with privacy, restrictions on access to information

FACTS:
The applicant, Hungarian refugee, was convicted of various criminal offences in Austria. New criminal proceedings were instituted against while he was serving his term for committing additional criminal offences during his stay in jail. These charges were later amended and an attempt to place the defendant in a mental-health institution was made. The authorities, throughout a series of court hearings and appeals, detained the applicant for around six months. The applicant filed this suit alleging violations of Articles 5(1)(c) and (e), Article 5(3), Article 3, Article 8, Article 10, and Article 13 of the European Court of Human Rights. The Court found it unnecessary to discuss the Article 13. It found no violation under Article 5(1) and (3). The Court found violations under all the remaining articles.

1. Detention:

- whether detention was 'lawful' within the meaning of Art 5(1)(a);

- whether purpose of arrest or detention falls within scope of Art 5(1)(c);

- whether applicant of 'unsound mind' within scope of Art 5(1)(e) of the Convention (Art 5(1)).

The detention at issue in this case had valid reasons that complied with Article 5(1) (c); namely ensuring that the applicant appeared before the Regional Court and to preventing the repetition of offences.

Article 5(1)(e) mandates that any the detention must be 'lawful' and observes accepted standard of procedure. However, national courts and authorities have discretion when dealing With a person of unsound mind. In this case, the State complied with the relevant national law and hence did not violate 5(1)(e).

2. Whether length of pre-trial detention exceeded limits set out in Convention (Art 5(3)).

A court must determine if the national court's reasons for the detention were 'relevant' and 'sufficient'. In addition, it must determine whether the authorities displayed due diligence while conducting the proceedings. In this case, There was no dispute over the findings of the court, this Court did not find any negligence on the part of the Austrian authorities, And there was no excessive delay on part of the Austrian judiciary.

3. Inhuman or degrading treatment.

Measures taken out of medical necessity cannot be regarded as inhuman or degrading treatment under Article 3 of the Convention. However, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment cannot be considered as part of a defendant's medical treatment. The same is true of his isolation from other patients violated the Convention (Art 3). What distinguishes treatment from other behavior is the manner in which the treatment was administered. Courts should also examine the evidence as to whether a medical necessity existed.

The following cases were referred to in the judgment:

1. X v UNITED KINGDOM (A/46): (1981) 4 EHRR 188.
2. B v AUSTRIA (A/175): (1990) 13 EHRR 20.
3. VAN DER LEER v NETHERLANDS (A/170): (1990) 13 EHRR 567.
4. WASSINK v NETHERLANDS, judgment of 27 September 1990 (A/185-A) p 11: not yet reported.
5. WINTERWERP v THE NETHERLANDS (A/33): (1979) 2 EHRR 387.
6. TOMASI v FRANCE (A/241-A): (1992) 15 EHRR 1.
7. KOENDJBIHARIE v NETHERLANDS (A/185-B): (1990) 13 EHRR 820.
8. KRUSLIN v FRANCE (A-176-B): (1990) 12 EHRR 547.
9. HUVIG v FRANCE (A/176-B): (1990) 12 EHRR 528.
10. SILVER v UNITED KINGDOM (A/61): (1983) 5 EHRR 347.
11. MALONE v UNITED KINGDOM (A/82): (1984) 7 EHRR 14.

 

 

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