INSTITUTUL PENTRU DREPTURILE OMULUI DIN MOLDOVA
MOLDOVAN INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
On 29 Sept 2018, the relatives of two patients hospitalized at the Orhei Psychiatry and TB Hospital posted their images in the social media, invoking they had been physically maltreated during their treatment there as they had found multiple marks of injuries on their bodies.
Presuming that the persons had been subjected/exposed to torture, inhuman and/or degrading treatment while kept in state custody, the IDOM lawyers contacted the relatives and took over the cases in view of providing legal assistance to the patients and clarifying the circumstances in which the bodily injuries had been caused to them during their treatment at the Orhei Psychiatry and TB Hospital.
On 1 Oct 2018, the IDOM lawyers Olesea Doronceanu, Alexandru Cebanaș and Andrei Lungu traveled to the Orhei Psychiatry and TB Hospital. In view of providing legal assistance, they met there with patients presumed to have been subject to ill treatment; spoke with their relatives, with other patients, with the medical staff and the hospital’s management; and requested and reviewed the entire medical documentation in their names.
Lawyers’ Findings and Actions Taken
The patients presumed to have been subject/exposed to torture and ill treatment are two old persons, a man and a woman, one of whom is still hospitalized in the Orhei Psychiatry and TB Hospital, while the other one had already been discharged at the relatives’ request.
- In the first case, patient B.A. was diagnosed with an incurable disease and hospitalized for treatment on 10 Sept 2018 based on Orhei psychiatrist’s referral. The patient was examined upon hospitalization and he did not have any visible injuries on his body.
On 27 Sept 2018, B.A.’s wife and daughter came to visit him and found multiple injuries on his body. The patient could not explain what had happened to him, as he does not talk and the disease with which he had been diagnosed does not allow him to realize the actual state of things. The medical staff explained to the relatives that the bodily injuries had been caused to the patient during the night of 26 Sept 2018 by another patient who was placed in the same ward with B.A.
The IDOM lawyers found that although six days had passed since the day of the incident, one could still see may marks of violence in the form of injuries on B.A.’s body: a bruised face, red and swollen eyes, many cuts, scratches and bruises in the areas of the head, front head, eyes, cheeks, and neck that were still bleeding. B.A. also had many injuries in the form of edemas and bruises on his chest and abdomen. Other injuries were found on his back, on both shoulders, in the kidney area, on his left arm and right leg.
Reviewing the medical papers and registers in B.A’s name, the lawyers found certain circumstances that did not match with the official position and the final explanation offered to the relatives by the hospital management.
The registers show that B.A. had been assaulted twice: the first time by a patient, on 24 Sept 2018, and the second time by the same patient, on 25 Sept 2018. The registers also show that the nurse on guard initially had explained that B.A. had fallen and hit himself against a heat radiator, and then he explained that on 25 Sept 2018, around 5 AM, he saw how B.A. was being hit with a spoon by another patient from the same ward.
The patients in the same ward with B.A. either could not explain what had happened due to the psychic diseases with which they had been diagnosed, or claimed they had not seen who physically maltreated B.A. because when they woke up, in the ward were just the nurse on guard, the patient claimed to be the aggressor, and B.A. who was lying on the floor and bleeding.
The patient claimed to have assaulted B.A. did not have any bodily injuries, nor could explain what had happened, due to his disease.
- The second case taken over involves the patient G.E. who was hospitalized at the Orhei Psychiatry and TB Hospital twice, between 8 July 2018 and 16 Aug 2018, and from 21 Aug 2018 to 19 Sept 2018.
G.E’s relatives (daughter) claim that she was a victim of torture and ill treatment during her hospitalization in the first time interval.
Having reviewed the medical papers and registers in G.E.’s name, the lawyers found that she had been hospitalized for the first time on 8 July 2018 and, according to the entries in the daily register of medical assistants, a plague and a bruise under her left eye were found during the examination. The presence of such injuries has been denied by her daughter and the driver of the taxi who had brought her to the hospital.
On the discharge day (16 Aug 2018), the daughter took her mother home and when bathing her in the evening she noticed multiple injuries on her body. She called the hospital right away and complained that her mother had been tortured during her treatment there but the institution did not react. On 21 Aug 2018, G.E. was repeatedly hospitalized at the Orhei Hospital and during the lawyers’ discussions with the medical staff, a nurse confirmed having seen injuries on G.E.’s body.
The lawyers also found that the conditions of placement of the patients were degrading: an unbearable smell in the sections, unaired wards; no paper in the toilets; no warm water in the boiler or personal hygiene items in the bathroom (soap, brushes, toothpaste, shampoo, towels etc.); the patients bathe only once a week.
Referring to the above-said circumstances, first we would like to stress that the persons placed in medical facilities are in the custody of state bodies and so the latter are obliged to protect their physical and psychological integrity and to secure the respect for their rights, including of not being subject to torture and ill treatment. The presence of multiple bodily injuries on patients while they are kept in state custody denotes that their security is not provided for and no measures are taken to investigate such cases or prevent others from happening in the future.
The circumstances found by the lawyers revealed that the hospital management, contrary to the law, does not take action to clarify the cases of bodily injuries being caused to the patients; no internal investigations are immediately started to find the acts and sanction the persons responsible for them (the cases became public and internal investigations were carried out after the patients’ relatives publicized them); no measures are taken to ensure the security of the patient, even if conflicts and violence with alleged aggressors had previously happened; the prosecution is not notified about the cases of violence found; the relatives are not announced about the incidents occurred.
The facts presented above lead to a reasonable doubt that the patients were exposed/subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment (art. 1661 Criminal Code of Moldova) in the period of their treatment at the Orhei Psychiatry Hospital. IDOM lawyers believe that there are grounds to start criminal investigations under art.166/1 Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, Criminal Code of Moldova, for establishing with certainty the circumstances in which the bodily injuries were caused to the patients and to hold liable the persons responsible for the use of violence or failure to provide for their security.
IDOM lawyers have prepared and filed criminal complaints in the interests of both patients with the Prosecutor’s Office, invoking a reasonable doubt about the commission of the crime set out in art. 1661 Criminal Code of Moldova “Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.” The Orhei Prosecutor’s Office has started criminal investigations based on the lawyers’ complaints and is now prosecuting both cases.