Sweden: Patients Are Kept in Involuntary Care – Despite Finishing Treatment

The problem with patients who finish treatment yet are kept in involuntary care continues. Civil Rights Defenders is submitting a complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman about a case in which a man was detained in violation of the European Convention.
The proportion of patients who were deemed ready for forensic psychiatric outpatient care but who were still treated in inpatient care in 2016 was 11 per cent, according to the National Quality Registry for Forensic Psychiatry’s annual report for 2016. A lack of accommodation was listed as the most common cause.

Liberties member Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) has reported the municipality of Norrköping to the parliamentary ombudsman (JO). Because of inadequate management, the municipality has caused a man to be kept in involuntary inpatient care, despite a lack of grounds for it. The man was sentenced to forensic psychiatric care with a special discharge hearing in 2011. When he had finished treatment in inpatient care, his doctor applied for a transition to forensic psychiatric outpatient care. In order for his care to transition into outpatient conditions, the man needed accommodation with access to particular services. Norrköping’s municipality was assigned the responsibility to arrange for his accommodation – which would take one year and six months.

Because the man lacked accommodation, the administrative court decided that he had to stay in involuntary inpatient care while waiting for the municipality to arrange his living situation, despite the fact that the man had accumulated no complaints, been cooperative, followed the ward’s rules and routines, and handled his parole well.

"Because of the municipality’s actions, the man was detained for much longer than necessary. It is a question of a very serious human rights violation. Unfortunately, his case is not unique, there are many in Sweden who are kept in involuntary care despite having finished treatment," says John Stauffer, legal director at Civil Rights Defenders.

Why is CRD reporting to JO?

Norrköping authorities have acted in a way that has led to a violation of the man’s right to liberty in accordance with the Instrument of Government and the European Convention on Human Rights. Civil Rights Defenders, which acts as legal representative in the case, is reporting the municipality to JO on the following grounds:

  • The municipality has caused undue delay in executing the decision about accommodation, despite obligations according to the law about support and service for certain persons with disabilities.
  • The municipality has refrained from participating in subsequent meetings for treatment planning, despite obligations according to the law on municipalities' responsibility for paying for certain health care.

The man was detained for another one year and six months after his doctor had stated that he had finished treatment. Civil Rights Defenders argues that the man was being wrongly detained for a year. According to established case law, six months is considered reasonable time for a municipality to secure the conditions for release.

The man was finally granted accommodation in December 2016.

Download Civil Rights Defenders’ JO-complaint here.

For more information, please contact:
Email: press@crd.org, Tel. +46 76 576 27 62