Case Van Zandbergen v. Belgium

Importance Nature Application Number Case language State Date (dd/mm/yyyy)
3 Judgement 4258/11 English Belgium 02/02/2016

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 Van Zandbergen v. Belgium - 4258/11

Article 5

Continued detention in the absence of a new independent export report : no violation


In 1992 the Malines court ordered the psychiatric confinement of the applicant, who had been arrested following a murder he had committed. The domestic court’s declared, on the basis of a psychiatric expert report, that the applicant could not be held responsible for this crime. In 2010, the applicant application for release was rejected. The applicant complained that his continued detention had been ordered in the absence of a new expert report in breach of Article 5§1.

The main question the Court had to answer was whether the domestic courts had enough information to conclude that the detention’s applicant had to be prolonged on the ground of his state of health (§42). The Court observed that the 2010 decision was based on psychological and psychiatric reports dated 2010, written following examinations conducted between 2009 and 2010 (§44). The Court further declared it is not its role to assess the overall scientific quality of these examinations; and that the contracting States enjoy a wide margin of appreciation in the matter (§47 – see also Graz v. Germany).

Accordingly, the Court declared there had been no violation of Article 5§1. In their common Dissenting Opinion, Judges Karakaş, Vučinić and Kūris voiced their concern that no independent expertise had been conducted since 1999, since from that date psychiatric expertise had been conducted by the prison medical staff (§7 – see also Ruiz Rivera v. Switzerland, §§60-64).