Natisni vsebino

2. Inspections of institutions

2. Inspections of institutions

Article 42 of the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsman states that the ombudsman may carry out inspections of prisons and other premises containing people deprived of their liberty, and of other institutions with restricted freedom of movement. The draft law on mental health also gives the Human Rights Ombudsman unlimited access to psychiatric hospitals in order to check the legal conformity of living conditions and the respecting of the rights of persons detained therein. One variant even proposes regular monthly visits to psychiatric hospitals. The importance of supervision with the help of visits is also stressed by the Council of Europe: in Recommendation 1235 (1994) and Resolution 1029 (1994) on psychiatry and human rights, the Parliamentary Assembly commits itself to the introduction of a special European system of supervision of psychiatric hospitals in member states similar to the system within the competence of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In 1998 we continued our visits to psychiatric hospitals and social care institutions. The chief purpose of our visits is to check the legal conformity of the detention of persons detained against their will. We also examine living conditions and the respecting of the rights of detained persons. In 1998 we visited the Ljubljana Psychiatric Clinic and the Vojnik and Begunje psychiatric hospitals. We also visited several social care institutions, in particular old people’s homes. Of these visits to social care institutions it is worth drawing special attention to the visit to the Hrastovec-Trate Institute for the Mentally and Nervously Ill. We compiled reports on all of the institutions we visited. These reports contain our findings, opinions, proposals and recommendations. We believe that the protection of human personality and dignity and the physical and mental integrity of persons with mental disorders detained against their will can also be effectively strengthened through preventive remedies based on visits and not requiring a court order. All the visits took place with the full cooperation of the directors or staff of the institutions in question. During the visits we also spoke to patients or inmates who wished to speak to us.

The assessment of the situation established on the basis of the visits carried out, coupled with the other activities of the Human Rights Ombudsman in the area of the protection of people with mental disorders, enables certain conclusions which point to inadequacies both at the normative level and in the area of the implementation of applicable regulations.

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