The Constitutional Court has ruled that Czechs who were stripped of their legal capacity due to conditions such as mental retardation and dementia will not automatically loose their right to vote. Rather, courts will now have to determine on a case-by-case basis whether mentally challenged or ill citizens should be allowed to keep that right. But some experts believe that the verdict still leaves plenty of questions unresolved
Some 25,000 adults in the Czech Republic are legally incapacitated. Most often, legal incapacitation aims to protect mentally challenged people from making bad financial choices or signing legal contracts which they do not understand.
Until recently, however, losing one’s legal capacity would also go hand in hand with losing some constitutional rights, such as the right to vote. Now, the Czech Constitutional Court has issued a ruling that will most likely reverse this automatic loss. Judge Miloslav Výborný delivered the verdict.
Some judges and legal experts consider the ruling a breakthrough, since it forces courts to examine on a case-by-case basis the question of whether a legally incapacitated person should or should not be able to vote.
“This is only a small victory, because the problematic paragraphs of the electoral law have not been removed by the constitutional court’s verdict. There is no fail-proof way for either judges or psychologists to determine whether someone is mentally capable of voting or not. So that is a big challenge for both the Czech judiciary and the psychiatric system.”