DD v Lithuania

Forum: European Court of Human Rights
INTERIGHTS' role: Adviser to counsel
Keywords: Disability, access to justice

D.D. is a woman who, despite a history of mental health problems, led a socially functional and independent life before being placed in an institution at her adoptive father’s initiative in 2000. D.D. was granted anonymity in proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights. 

In 2000, when she was 37, D.D. was stripped of her legal capacity upon the request of her adoptive father and after summary court proceedings in which she did not have the opportunity to participate. Thus, she effectively became a “non-person” under domestic law. Two years later, D.D. was placed under guardianship. Her first guardian was her psychotherapist and friend, who later resigned and was replaced with D.D.’s adoptive father.

In 2004, upon the initiative of her adoptive father and without her consent, D.D. was placed in a social care home where she remains to this day. At the same time she was institutionalised, D.D. had not been to hospital for almost four years. In 2007, the director of the social care home became her guardian. As an incapacitated person, D.D. was not given the opportunity to participate in this or any other guardianship proceedings.

The application brought before the Strasbourg Court refers to a number of violations of D.D.’s human rights, stemming primarily from the divesting of her legal capacity and institutionalisation. It is hoped that this case will assist the Court to restate and develop the standard formulated in previous case law according to which a “one-size-fits-all” approach to the legal capacity of persons with disabilities is profoundly at odds with their right to a private life, as well as to elaborate on the type of support that States have to provide to people in DD’s position in order to satisfy their positive obligations under the Convention. In addition, it will provide a further impetus to the Court to read a right to community living into certain Articles of the Convention. Finally, the Court is invited to clarify that certain procedural safeguards should be embedded in domestic proceedings concerning legal capacity, guardianship and institutionalisation so that the interests of people with disabilities are afforded adequate protection.The application was granted priority treatment by the Court.

INTERIGHTS acted as advisers to counsel, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute.

INTERIGHTS Contact: Constantin Cojocariu, Lawyer, Europe Programme, ccojocariu@interights.org

Further information:

Amicus brief from the Harvard Project on Disability

Amicus brief by the European Group of National Human Rights Institutions