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On May 19th 2004, the ECHR found in case R.L M.J.D v. France (44568/98) violations of article 3 and 5-1-c) for the violent and illegal arrest of a couple in their restaurant and their subsequent detention in the police station of the 5th district. The Court also found a violation of the article 5-1-e) for the detention during more than 6 hours of one of the applicant in the infamous “police infirmary“ (infirmerie psychiatrique de la prefecture de police aka IPPP) and violations of article 5-5 for both applicants.
At the 940th meeting of October 11th, 12th 2005, the Committee of Ministers was informed by the delegation of French Republic that since January 12st 2005, the police doctors have the power to order the release of the detainees in the “police infirmary“ . It added that during off-office hours an off-site police doctor can give the order by telephone.
Unfortunately, this statement is untrue. The detainees in the “police infirmary“ are held for 48 hours under the order of the superintendent of a police station (art.L3213-2 of the code of public health). Their release before the end of the 48 hours can only be ordered by a superintendent of a police station in Paris and not by a police doctor.
On May 5th 2010, a new bill on the rights of mental health detainee was introduced at the national assembly. This bill will not make any change to the article L3213-2 of the code of public health. The report on the bill don’t even mention in its case-law the case R.L MJD v. France.
The “police infirmary“ was created in 1872. It detains each year around 2,500 Parisians for up to 48h (source : Paris police department). But it operates clandestinely in blatant disregard of multiple provisions of the code of public health. It is not licensed as an health center regulated by the health authority (Haute Autorite de Sante) so it doesn’t have any authorization to admit mental health patients, deliver prescription drugs, hire doctors, keep medical files or to provide any health care whatsoever.
Furthermore, the “police infirmary“ has an administrative practice to not notify the detainees of the reason of their detention in violation of article 5-2 of the Convention, to not allow them to contact their lawyers or the judge in violation of article 5-4 of the Convention, to force detainees to be striped search and to ingest sedative drugs, to restrain them to their beds, all in violation of article 3 of the Convention and to coerce detainees to non standardized mental status examination and to keep medical records of them, both violations of article 8 of the Convention.
In addition, the Paris police department ordered on average only 40% of the detainees of the “police infirmary“ to be transferred in licensed mental health center (source : Paris police department), acknowledging the fact that 60% of the detention in the “police infirmary“ were detained in violation of article 5-1-e) of the Convention.
In March 2007, and again in June 2010, a bill to definitely close down the “police infirmary” was voted down by the Council of Paris.
The agenda of the 1100th meeting of November 30th 2010 shows that the monitoring of the execution of the judgment R.L M.J.D v. France (section 3) will take place at the 1108th meeting in March 2011.
The delegation of the French Republic didn’t answer our email for comments.