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2011: Restrictions of freedom

Involuntary internment

The conditions for involuntary internment

Outpatient or inpatient examination and treatment of a patient against his or her will is covered by section 68 of the Medical Treatment Law of 1997 (with amendments up to 10 December 2009). According to this law, it may only be performed in the following situations:

  1. if the behaviour of the patient is, due to a mental disorder, dangerous to him/herself or to the lives of other people (e.g. threatening to injure him/herself or others) and a medical practitioner has determined that s/he has a mental health disorder;
  2. if, the patient shows signs of an inability to care for him/herself or for a person under his/her guardianship and a medical practitioner has determined that s/he has a mental health disorder which may result in an unavoidable and serious deterioration of his/her health.

The procedure for involuntary internment

If a patient is hospitalised by force, the Council of Psychiatrists must examine the patient within 72 hours and make a decision about further treatment. The council must immediately inform the patient, his or her family members, or if none exists, his or her closest relatives or legal representatives (trustee, guardian) about the decision. If it is impossible to inform any of these people immediately through a meeting, a written notice must be sent and registered in the patient’s file.

If the Council of Psychiatrists has decided that psychiatric treatment is necessary, the psychiatric medical institution must inform in writing the district court within 24 hours and send original copies of the relevant documents justifying internment.

On receipt of these documents and notification, the judge immediately informed the district public prosecutor, as well as the representative of the patient and the psychiatric medical treatment institution of the day, time and place for the examination of the relevant documents.

The judge holds a closed sitting in the psychiatric medical treatment institution in which the patient has been placed and the patient attends this meeting if his/her conditions permits this, along with the public prosecutor and the representative of the patient or the advocate.

The judge hears all present and takes a decision regarding the provision of psychiatric assistance for up to two months or to release the person. This decision is implemented without delay. If further treatment is considered necessary, an application can be made to extend the treatment for a period of up to six months.  

Coercive measures

Unlawful deprivation of liberty is dealt with in section 152 of the Criminal Law. The sentence is more severe if the deprivation of liberty was carried out in a way that endangered the life or health of the victim, caused him or her physical suffering, lasted for more than a week or occurred on a regular basis. 


Chapter XIII of the Criminal Law (sections 125 and 126) deals with serious and moderate bodily injury inflicted either intentionally or through negligence.

According to section 141 of the Criminal Law, it is a crime to knowingly abandon (leave without assistance) a person whose life or health is endangered or who is unable to save him/herself due to “juvenility, advanced age, illness, or feebleness” if the offender was able to provide assistance and had an obligation to take care of that person.

Section 171 of the Criminal Law states that a person who uses guardianship or trusteeship to the detriment of the person subject to the guardianship or trusteeship measure may be sentenced to custodial arrest, community service or a fine not exceeding twenty times the minimum monthly wage.


Valsts valodas centrs (State Language Centre),Medical Treatment Law, Latvian Legislation Portal (accessed on 25 October 2011



Last Updated: Wednesday 14 March 2012


  • Acknowledgements

    The above information was published in the 2011 Dementia in Europe Yearbook as part of Alzheimer Europe's 2011 Work Plan which received funding from the European Union in the framework of the Health Programme. AE also gratefully acknowledges the support it received from Fondation Médéric Alzheimer for its project on restrictions of freedom and for the publication of its Yearbook.
  • European Union
  • Fondation Médéric Alzheimer