Ending coercive mental health legislation in Europe – UN experts
GENEVA – Independent UN human rights experts on Friday called for a European body of intergovernmental experts to stop legislation supporting coercive mental health measures.
Five UN experts issued a statement calling on the Council of Europe’s Bioethics Committee to withdraw a draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention – a treaty protecting the human rights of individuals with regard to biology and medicine – which would codify a mental health policy based on coercion and bring “stigma and fear to people with psychosocial disabilities”.
“Overwhelming evidence from the European Disability Forum, Mental Health Europe and other organizations and a growing consensus within the United Nations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), shows that forced admission in medical institutions and coercive treatment in institutions will lead to adverse effects such as pain, trauma, humiliation [and] shame, ”the experts said.
This is incompatible with contemporary human rights principles and standards.
Calm the draft
If adopted in a vote in early June, the draft additional protocol would continue to allow all 47 Council of Europe states parties to use coercive measures against people with mental disorders, including their forced engagement in psychiatric establishments.
The coercive approach to mental health “hurts people with disabilities” and “we should not go back to allow this outdated approach,” the experts said, adding that people with psychosocial disabilities “have a right to live in the community and refuse medical treatment ”.
“We call on all state delegations to oppose the draft Additional Protocol at the next meeting and urge the Council of Europe to end the legitimization of forced institutionalization and the use of coercion against people with disabilities, including older people with disabilities, ”they stressed.
Be part of the future
The controversial draft treaty has also aroused opposition within Europe and the international community.
Voices within the Council of Europe, such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, have all spoken out against the draft protocol.
“When there are efforts around the world to reform mental health policy, we are surprised that the Council of Europe, a major regional human rights organization, is considering adopting a treaty that would be a setback to reverse all positive developments in Europe and spread. a deterrent effect elsewhere in the world, ”said the experts.
They underlined that the Council of Europe now has “a unique opportunity to move from old-fashioned coercive approaches” to mental health, to take concrete steps to promote supportive mental health services and realize human rights. man for all “without discrimination based on disability. “.
“We urge the Council of Europe to be part of the future and not of the past in the field of mental health,” the experts concluded.
Special rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council to examine and report on a specific human rights theme or national situation. They are not United Nations staff and are not paid for their work. – UN News