Case of Miranda Magro v. Portugal (Application no. 30138/21)

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgment.


92. In that connection, the Court notes that the conditions in which a person suffering from a mental health disorder receives treatment are also relevant in assessing the lawfulness of his or her detention within the meaning of Article 5 of the Convention (see Rooman, cited above, §§ 194 and 208).

In order to determine whether the detention of the applicant as a “person of unsound mind” has been “lawful” in the present case, the Court, taking into account its findings under Article 3, will assess the appropriateness of the institution in which he was detained, including whether an individualised treatment plan was put in place. Such a plan should have taken account of the specific needs of his mental health and have been aimed specifically, in so far as possible, at curing or alleviating his condition, including, where appropriate, bringing about a reduction in or control over the level of danger posed, with a view to preparing him for possible future reintegration into society (ibid., § 208).

93. The Court notes that between 14 April and 18 October 2021, the applicant, who was found to be not criminally responsible, was detained in the psychiatric unit of the Caxias Prison Hospital (see paragraph 14-15 above); the prison hospital is primarily aimed at serving the ordinary prison community suffering from mental illness and is not part of the health system (see paragraphs 39 and 47 above). The Court accepts that the mere fact that the applicant was not placed in an appropriate facility does not, per se, render his detention unlawful (see Rooman, cited above, § 210). However, the Court reiterates that keeping detainees with mental illnesses in the psychiatric ward of ordinary prisons pending their placement in a proper mental health establishment, without the provision of sufficient and appropriate care, as appears to have been the case with the applicant, is not compatible with the protection ensured by the Convention for such individuals.

94. Having considered the submissions of both parties and in view of its findings in paragraphs 77-82 above, the Court is not convinced that the applicant was offered appropriate treatment or that the therapeutic environment he was placed in was suitable for his condition. In this connection, the Court reiterates that the level of care provided must go beyond basic care. Mere access to health professionals, consultations and the provision of medication cannot suffice for treatment to be considered appropriate and thus satisfactory under Article 5 of the Convention (see Rooman, cited above, § 209). Also, as already found in paragraph 80, the Government did not present the therapeutic plan for the applicant or other documents in this respect. Furthermore, having regard to the applicant’s state of health and special vulnerability, the Court also takes note of the impact his detention had on him, namely in aggravating his state of confusion and fear owing to the restrictive and anti-therapeutic environment that detention in a prison facility entailed.

95. In view of the foregoing, the Court considers that the applicant’s deprivation of liberty in the psychiatric unit of the Caxias Prison Hospital was not lawful and violated the requirements of Article 5 § 1 (e) of the Convention.

96. Therefore, the Court concludes that there has been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention.


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