The European Court of Human Rights (in short ECHR) makes sure
An organisation in Romania asked the ECHR to help.
He died because he did not get good care.
The ECHR decided that the organisation was right.
On 17 July 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found the Romanian state responsible for the death of a person with an intellectual disability who was committed to a psychiatric hospital and denied proper food, clothing or medical care. The Court decided in favour of the plaintiff, the Centre for Legal Resources (CLR), who filed the suit on behalf of the deceased.
Valentin Câmpeanu, a young man with intellectual disabilities, was HIV positive, orphaned at birth and institutionalized ever since. On 20 November 2004, Mr. Câmpeanu died just hours after representatives from the Centre for Legal Resources found him in appalling conditions. Making matters worse, no effective investigation had been made in Romania into the circumstances of his death, even after repeated appeals for justice from the CLR.
The ECHR allowed the CLR to file the complaint on behalf of the victim due to the exceptional circumstances of the events which took place, and the “serious nature of the allegations”. The final and public judgement found two serious human rights violations, of Article 2 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, more specifically of the right to life and the right to an effective remedy..
All 17 judges unanimously held that Mr. Câmpeanu was involuntarily committed to medical institutions which were unprepared to offer him proper care for his conditions, in direct violation of Article 2, mentioned above. Furthermore, he had been moved between several units without diagnosis, or being assigned an antiretroviral treatment plan. At the same time, while authorities were aware of the situation, Mr. Câmpeanu was left without nourishment, only half-clothed, and in an unheated room, subjected to sub-zero temperatures.
The ECHR also warned that Mr. Câmpeanu’s case was not unique, and that it reflected a much more deep-rooted and widespread issue in the Romanian care and institution system. The court recommended that authorities take rapid action and make sure other people with disabilities in similar situations get access to appropriate care.
Georgiana Pascu, Program Manager for CLR, said: “This decision is extremely important in Romania and also across Europe. The death of Valentin Câmpeanu occurred after several authorities failed. Our view is that the whole system dealing with people with mental disabilities is responsible. The ECHR decision sets a precedent that will help tens of thousands of people in similar situations to Valentin Câmpeanu across Europe.”
The Centre for Legal Resources (CLR) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization which actively advocates for the establishment and operation of a legal and institutional framework that safeguards the observance of human rights and equal opportunities, free access to fair justice and which contributes to the capitalization of its legal expertise for the general public interest
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