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Published on February 15, 2019 News

Czech Ombudsman inquiring police intervention in a psychiatric clinic which resulted into the death of the patient

In November 2015, a patient died at the psychiatric clinic in Olomouc during police intervention where a Taser (TASER X26) was used; the police was called in by the medical staff to help restrain the patient who was behaving dangerously due a psychotic seizure.

The Ombudswoman decided to take her own initiative and to inquire into the case. The aim of her examination was to make clear whether it was necessary to use force to restrain the patient. The inquiry also focused on assessing the tragic event in terms of its systemic implication, i.e. especially regarding the use of electrical discharge weapons by the police and systematic protection of people with mental disorders from interference with their right to life and their right not to be subjected to ill-treatment.

The inquiry revealed number of shortcomings (i.e. lack of regard for the skills of individual police officer in operating the Taser, insufficient data obtained from the Taser device after the intervention, etc.). Since neither the Police Presidium nor the Ministry of Health adopted remedial measures on their own, the Ombudswoman’s final statement suggested to implement number of systemic improvements which should lead to a better protection of rights of persons in the future.

Albeit complete success has yet to be achieved in the case (the Ministry of Health seems to have given up in the long term on detailed monitoring of the use of force in psychiatric facilities and delegated all responsibilities in this regard to the police), the Minister’s latest statement indicated that the Ministry understands the gravity of the problem, i.e. that Tasers or other coercive means are used directly on the premises of healthcare facilities, and promises to co-operate with the police as required and aid the hospitals in establishing their own internal procedures for co-operation with the police.

The police intervention was also investigated by the General Inspectorate of Security Forces. When the case was set aside, the family of the deceased filed a lawsuit. In 2017, the Ombudswoman became an enjoined party in proceedings on a constitutional complaint lodged in the same case (File No. IV. ÚS 4150/16) and provided the Constitutional Court with her report as an expert opinion. 


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