The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Thursday that by subjecting a man to prolonged compulsory psychiatric treatment, Croatia violated his right to liberty and security under Article 5 of the European convention of human rights.

The applicant, Luka Miklić, faced criminal charges as a minor in 2016 following complaints of bullying and harassment by an underage teenager. In June 2017, the City Court of Rijeka found Miklić guilty of criminal offenses for intrusive behavior and threats while underage while underage. It relied on psychiatric and psychological expert reports obtained during the criminal proceedings to commit him to a psychiatric unit for six months.

However, based on expert advice, his detention was extended several times. Miklić then sued the country. In July 2019, the Constitutional Court rejected his complaint asking the national courts to duly consider replacing his compulsory confinement with a softer measure. Miklić then filed a petition with the ECHR against his forced confinement in the psychiatric hospital.

The ECHR noted that under Article 37(2) of the Mental Disorders Protection Act, the court must obtain a new expert opinion from a person not employed by the institution concerned. when deciding on the periodic extension of a person’s compulsory confinement.

Miklić had been refused a further expert opinion by the county and appellate courts without any justifiable reason. The domestic jurisdictions relied on expert opinions carried out one or two years ago. Given that Miklić had previously shown improvements in his condition, these expert assessments could not be considered “the most accurate information about his mental state at the time of his request for release”.

Since Miklić’s internment was not based on objective and recent assessments and the domestic courts did not order a new expert report, the ECHR found that his rights under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention had been violated.