D.D. v. Lithuania – a right to legal capacity

May 3, 2012

Proceedings initiated: 2004

Proceedings closed: 2012

Case in brief: the courts, without hearing out the applicant, stripped her off legal capacity and assigned a guardian, who locked her up in a mental care facility for eight years

Outcome of the case: ECtHR recognized violations of Article 5 and 6 of the ECHR and awarded the applicant with damages, her legal capacity was restored

Facts of the case:

In 2000 D.D., the applicant, was stripped of her legal capacity upon the request of her adoptive father. Two years later, she was placed under guardianship. In 2004, upon the initiative of her adoptive father and without her consent, D.D. was placed in a social care home in Kedainiai. In 2007, the director of the social care home became her guardian. As an incapacitated person, D.D. was not given the opportunity to participate in this or any other guardianship proceedings.

Proceedings before the ECtHR:

In 2006, D.D., represented by the Human Rights Monitoring Institute and the UK-based public interest litigation organization “Interights”, filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights arguing a violation of her right to liberty and security, fair trial, discrimination on the ground of disability and other rights.

On 14 February, 2012, the European Court of Human Rights issued a decision in the case of D.D. v Lithuania, where it found violations of Article 5 (righ to liberty and security of a person) and 6 (right to a fair trial) of the ECHR. ECHR reasoned in its judgment that the Lithuanian system of protection of the rights of persons with mental disability suffers from serious legal and practical shortcomings.

ECHR concluded that the involuntary placement of D.D. to Kedainai social care home amounted to the deprivation of her liberty because the administration had a complete control over D.D. in relation to her treatment, care, accommodation and freedom of movement. The Court stressed that according to the Convention, the applicant has the right for judicial review of her involuntary institutionalisation. However, Lithuanian laws did not provide for such review, and a person with no legal capacity had no right to apply to court alltogether. Therefore the court ruled that such legal regulation is in breach of the applicant’s rights under Article 5 of the Convention guaranteeing the right to liberty and security of person.

Follow-up to the case:

On 29 May, 2012, the Kaunas City District Court restored D.D.’s legal capacity. Following the judgment D.D. moved out of Kedainiai social care home and current lives in her own apartment in Kaunas city.

Case files:

European Court of Human Rights judgment

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