Červenka v. the Czech Republic  |2017

Law changed after man was illegally held in a social care home

It was terrible, the first thing I noticed was that there were 50 men and only 2 toilets. There were used nappies everywhere on the ground. The cleaning was done only once a week.

Jaroslav Červenka, quoted in an MDAC/LIGA press release - © Photo LIGA


For several years, Jaroslav Červenka was in and out of a psychiatric hospital. He had an alcohol problem, which caused dementia-like symptoms.

In 2005, a court took away Jaroslav’s legal capacity. It decided that he was unable to make legal decisions for himself.

Jaroslav tried to get his legal capacity back, but his requests were always refused.

In February 2011, after concerns were raised about his worsening condition, a court-appointed public guardian decided that Jaroslav was no longer fit to look after himself and that he should therefore be placed in a social care home.

Jaroslav protested against his placement in the home, which he was not free to leave. He said that he was being held against his will - but the authorities did not listen to him.

Eventually, a human rights lawyer stepped in on Jaroslav’s behalf and demanded his release. The lawyer thought that Jaroslav’s detention was unlawful.

The Czech courts refused to act on the lawyer’s complaint because Jaroslav lacked the legal capacity to ask a lawyer to work for him.  

In September 2011, Jaroslav’s public guardian abruptly ended the agreement with the social care home. Jaroslav was finally free to leave.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court ruled that the Czech Republic had violated Jaroslav’s right to liberty through his placement in the social care home.

There were no proper safeguards against potential abuse of the placement procedure nor any way that Jaroslav could have challenged the lawfulness of his detention or sought compensation in the Czech Republic.

The European court awarded Jaroslav €15,000 in compensation.

. . . the Court considers that a procedure which merely required the public guardian’s consent to the admission of [Jaroslav] to the social care home does not provide a sufficient safeguard against arbitrariness.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, January 2017


Anticipating the European court’s judgment, the Czech government changed the law.

The changes, which came into force in 2016, set out conditions under which a guardian of a person who is restricted in their legal capacity can resort to their placement in a social care institution. The changes also allow such placements to be legally reviewed by the courts.