Case 13-P

No. 13-P. Concerning the Constitutionality of Sections 402, 433, 437, 438, 439, 441, 444 and 445 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation
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Ablamskiy, Lobashova and Matveev were approved for compulsory medical treatment or institutionalization after psychiatric examinations, and were thus not allowed to appeal their compulsory medical measures or participate in their criminal proceedings. They argued that the procedural rules governing the due process rights of individuals declared mentally incompetent were unconstitutional under the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

Ablamskiy was accused of defamation. The prosecutor successfully petitioned the Soviet District Court to force Ablamskiy to undergo a psychiatric examination. Based on the results of the examination, Ablamskiy was involuntarily hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital. Ablamskiy’s appeal to the Regional Court was returned without consideration on the merits. The Regional Court noted that as Ablamskiy required compulsory treatment, he was “not entitled to personally challenge the [District] Court’s decision.”

Lobashova was accused of “violence against a representative of authorities.” She was subject to compulsory medical measures, and a District Court decision extended her compulsory outpatient treatment and follow-up psychiatric observations. Lobashova’s appeal and complaint filed in the Regional Court, as well as her petition for termination of compulsory medical treatment, were returned without consideration on the merits. The Courts noted that Lobashova did not have the right to appeal or file petitions herself; her legal representative had to do so.

Matveev was accused of “violence against a representative of authorities.” The Railway District Court of Novosibirsk held him subject to compulsory outpatient psychiatric observation and treatment. Matveev’s appeal was refused with the note that Article 444 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Russia did not allow persons subject to compulsory medical treatment to appeal personally. Only his legal representative, defense counsel, or guardian could appeal on his behalf.

All three complainants argued that the provisions of Article 402, part 3 of Article 433, Articles 437 and 438, parts 3 and 6 of Article 439, part 1of Article 441, Article 444 and part 1of Article 445 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Russia violated the Russian Constitution. Those provisions do not allow persons who were subject to compulsory medical treatment to personally review their criminal case materials, to participate in hearings, to submit petitions regarding amendment or termination of compulsory medical measures, or to appeal procedural decisions.

Lobashova also argued that the legal concept of “mental state” was undefined such that courts have too much discretion in declaring individuals incompetent.

The Court held that the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation violated Articles 19, 45 (part 2), 46 (part 1) and 55 (part 3) of the Russian Constitution because they deprived persons subject to compulsory medical measures of due process rights, including the right to review their own criminal trial materials, the right to be present at hearings, the right to submit petitions concerning review of their compulsory medical treatment, and the right to petition and appeal procedural decisions.

The Court held that although those provisions called for a legal representative to be present for persons subject to compulsory medical measures, the provisions were still unconstitutional as they effectively forfeited the rights of all such persons without a court hearing, permitting a judge to evaluate whether the person is actually able to personally defend his or her rights. The Court pointed out that civil trial procedure allowed individuals to personally participate in their hearings as long as their health permitted, and individuals could personally appeal court decisions concerning their compulsory medical treatment.

The Court held that the concept of “mental state” was borrowed from the scientific realm and determined on a case-by-case basis by means of expert opinions; thus, no clear legal definition was required.

“[В] правоприменительнойпрактике с моментаполучениязаключениясудебно-психиатрическойэкспертизылицо, признанноеневменяемым, какправило, нетолькоавтоматическисчитаетсянеспособнымличноосуществлятьуказанные в этихнормахпроцессуальныедействия, но и лишаетсяостальныхправ, предоставленных в уголовномсудопроизводствелицам, в отношениикоторыхведетсяуголовноепреследование, а именно: знать, в совершениикакогообщественноопасногодеянияегоуличают, даватьобъясненияпообстоятельствамдела, заявлятьходатайства, участвовать в производствеследственныхдействий и судебномразбирательстве, приноситьжалобынадействия и решенияследователя, прокурора и суда, знакомиться с заключениемэкспертов и др.” Para. 3.1.

“[In] legal practice, after the opinion of a forensic psychiatric examination is obtained and a person is recognized as insane, said person is, as a rule, not only automatically considered to be unable to personally exercise the due process rights referred to in the above rules, but is also deprived of other rights granted in criminal proceedings to persons against whom criminal proceedings are pending: namely, to know which socially dangerous act he is accused of having committed, to give an explanation of the circumstances of the case, to make motions, to participate in investigative actions and judicial proceedings, to lodge complaints against the actions and decisions of the investigator, the prosecutor and the court, to review expert opinions, and others.” Para. 3.1.

С моментаприобщения к материаламуголовногоделазаключениясудебно-психиатрическойэкспертизыобеспечениепроцессуальныхправданнойкатегориилиц в полномобъемепередаетсязаконномупредставителю и защитнику, самижеэтилица, такимобразом, фактическиутрачиваютуголовно-процессуальнуюдееспособность, т.е.становятся в производстве о применениипринудительныхмермедицинскогохарактераегообъектом, безпроверки в судебномзаседании, действительнолионинеспособны (с точкизренияпсихическогосостояния) самостоятельнозащищатьсвоиправа. Para. 3.1.

“Once the results of the forensic psychiatric evaluation are added to the materials of the criminal case, the provision of due process rights of said category of persons is fully transferred to their legal representatives and defense counsel, thus those said persons effectively lose their legal capacity to partake in the criminal process, in effect becoming the subject of proceedings concerning implementation of compulsory medical measures, without a court hearing to check whether said persons indeed are unable (in terms of mental state) to personally defend their own rights.” Para. 3.1.