An administrative court took over three months to deal with a complaint about a patient having been committed involuntarily for psychiatric hospital care.
Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen takes the view that, as a result of the delay, the complainant did not receive an effective legal remedy so that the legality of his deprivation of liberty could be examined.
What is of paramount importance in systems of legal remedies relating to deprivation of liberty is swift and thorough scrutiny of the legality of the decision by an independent court of law, which must have the possibility of deciding to end the deprivation of liberty immediately.
Ombudsman Jääskeläinen is of the opinion that protection under the law should be implemented primarily on the national level and that breaches of rights should above all be prevented from happening. Recompense for breaches that have occurred must be made afterwards in such a way and on a level that does not lag behind the European Human Rights Convention system.
Finland still lacks national legislation covering recompense for delays in legal proceedings in an administrative court. However, the European Human Rights Convention system constitutes a legal foundation for recompense also in such a case.
Ombudsman Jääskeläinen has made a submission on a Government Bill to amend the legislation on recompense for delays in court proceedings. Under the amendment, the scope of application of the legislation will be broadened to include also administrative courts. At present, it applies only to delays in general courts.
The Ombudsman has asked the Ministry of Justice to consider whether the Bill should be revised to take better account of cases of this kind that require expeditious handling.
Additional information will be provided by Legal Officer Pasi Pölönen, tel. + 358 (0)9 4321