Johnson v UK 22520/93 [1997] ECHR 88

Finding that patient no longer suffering from mental illness did not require his immediate and unconditional discharge.

Headnote from judgment

Not disputed that applicant no longer suffering from mental illness which resulted in his confinement – however, this finding did not require authorities to order his immediate and unconditional discharge – review tribunal needed to have flexibility to assess in light of all relevant circumstances whether this course of action served interests of both applicant and community.

Review tribunal justified in proceeding cautiously in view of applicant’s history of acts of unprovoked violence while at liberty – decision to make absolute discharge conditional on, inter alia, applicant undergoing a period of rehabilitation in a suitable hostel justified in circumstances – decision to defer release until suitable hostel found also justified in principle, provided that safeguards in place to ensure that release not unreasonably delayed – in instant case, applicant spent three and a half years in detention on account of authorities’ failure to secure a placement – review tribunal lacked powers to ensure that a suitable hostel would be found within a reasonable time or to vary the terms of the hostel condition in view of difficulties encountered in finding a placement – no possibility to petition tribunal in between annual reviews or seek judicial review of terms of conditional discharge order.

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