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Original scientific paper

Keeping Mentally Ill Patients Institutionalised. Legal Regulation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jozo Čizmić ; Faculty of Law, University of Split, Split, Croatia

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Forced (private law) institutionalisation of mentally ill people is a complex matter, which opens up numerous medical, ethical, legal, economic and political problems. Its purpose is to help treatment of persons with permanent or temporary mental disorders, to protect society from them, or to protect them from hurting themselves by their own behaviour. Forced hospitalisation is intrinsically tied to the fundamental human rights issues and must be considered from that perspective.
The procedure for keeping mentally ill people institutionalised in Bosnia and Herzegovina is regulated by the 1998 Act on Non-Contentious Procedure of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Indisputably, that act has brought about a number of positive novelties, contributing significantly to procedural economy and effective conduct of the proceedings. Simultaneous passing of similar legislation in the second entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republic Srpska) led to a high degree of harmonisation, so that it may be argued that at the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina the non-contentious procedure is regulated in a uniform way, with only slight organisational differences.
In this paper, the author presents in detail the procedure for keeping mentally ill patients institutionalised. Various problem areas in the process of institutionalization are highlighted, such as: notification of the court about admitting the mentally ill to the hospital; patient's revocation of consent to remain in the institution; the obligation to inform the court in the procedure of deprivation of legal capacity; summary procedure in which legal proceedings are commenced ex officio; examination by expert medical witnesses; establishing the facts and evaluating evidence; reaching decisions according to their urgency; determining the length of forced hospitalization; extending forced hospitalisation; early discharge of patients in forced hospitalised; as well as appeals and legal costs in this process.


non-contentious proceedings, forced institutionalization, forced hospitalization, mentally ill patients

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