- Project Runeberg -  A practical guide for Russian consular officers and all persons having relations with Russia /

(1916) Author: Alfons Heyking - Tema: Russia
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Russian Consulate-General in London a case occurred in which certain
persons, who had been travelling with an eccentric young Russian,
presented themselves at the Consulate and declared him to be mad,
maintaining that it was the Consul’s duty to have him confined in an
asylum. At the same time, however, the case was not one of sufficient
gravity to justify any intervention on the part of the Consul.

It should be borne in mind, that every one is presumed to be in
the full enjoyment of his (or her) mental faculties and therefore entitled
to personal liberty, so long as his behaviour does not present a danger
to public security, and until the fact of his insanity has been formally
established by the proper authorities. It is not the duty of a Consul
to thrust himself upon an individual who desires neither his protection
nor his admonition.

In order to deprive a person of his personal liberty, it is necessary
that the most conclusive proofs should be produced of that person’s
mental derangement. Merely strange or eccentric behaviour, nervous
excitement, hallucinations or idiosyncracies are not adequate cause.

If, after having carefully weighed all the circumstances of the case,
the Consul is forced to the conclusion that his intervention is called
for, and his admonition addressed to the person concerned is not
productive of results, the Consul will do well to avoid all direct dealing
with the matter, and, instead, make application to the local authorities.
This course of action serves, not only to inform the authorities of the
case, but also to enable them to decide whether or not it is necessary in
the interests of the patient himself, and for the safe-guarding of public
security, to deprive him of his liberty, and to confide him to the care
of competent persons. This move has a double advantage for the
Consul: it covers his responsibility and, at the same time, does not
impose upon his State the cost of repatriation of the lunatic, such
costs being borne by the local authorities. It often requires much
patience and persuasion on the part of the Consul in order to convince
the local authorities that it is their duty to provide for the needs and
protection of the lunatic, and to arrange for his repatriation if they
• consider it advisable.

It is the duty of the Legation or Consulate to avoid committing
their Government to the payment of these expenses, since the local
authorities are bound in their own interests and in accordance with
public and international law to bear such expenses. On the other
hand, it goes without saying, that the Legations and Consulates
cannot wholly ignore indigent lunatics of their nationality, and that,
in extreme cases, where the local authorities refuse to do anything
for the patient, or where the latter is exposed to the danger of dying
of hunger or exposure, or is badly treated, the Legation or Consulate
must interfere on his behalf.

In 1906, a seaman of Russian nationality was landed at Leith,
having lost his reason while employed as a sailor on board a British
vessel. He was suffering from delirium tremens. The authorities at the
port refused to place him in an asylum, and intimated that it was the
duty of the Russian Consul to take charge of the lunatic, and to rid the
.community of him by repatriating him to Russia. The Consul replied

§ 144.


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