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G.M. et al. v. Republic of Moldova, No. 44394/15, ECtHR (Second Section), 22 November 2022


Abortions and birth-control measures imposed on women with intellectual disabilities residents in a neuropsychiatric asylum without their consent amount to inhuman and degrading treatment under article 3.

Normative references

Art. 3 ECHR


1. The position of inferiority and powerlessness which is typical of patients confined in psychiatric hospitals calls for increased vigilance in reviewing whether the Convention has been complied with.

2. States have a heightened duty of protection towards persons with intellectual disabilities who have been placed in the care of a public institution which is responsible for ensuring their safety and well-being, have not been deprived of their legal capacity and have no legal representative, and who are therefore in a particularly vulnerable situation.

3. While the acts and omissions of the medical staff of public hospitals clearly engage the responsibility of the respondent State under the Convention, the different roles of these hospitals require that the factual circumstances of the alleged ill-treatment be examined simultaneously from the perspective of the State’s negative and positive obligations under article 3 of the Convention.
(The applicants, three women with intellectual disabilities residents in a neuropsychiatric asylum, claimed a violation of article 8 ECHR following the imposition of abortions and birth-control measures on them, after they had been repeatedly raped by one of the head doctors, as well as the domestic authorities’ failure to carry out effective investigations into their complaints. The ECtHR found a violation of article 3 ECHR, since the invasive medical interventions, combined with the applicants’ vulnerability due to their gender, disability and institutionalisation, were sufficiently serious to fall under the scope this provision).