This is Day 28 of our 30-day blog on the Declaration of Principles adopted by the 10th Annual Conference on Human Rights and Psychiatric Oppression held in Toronto, May 14-18, 1982. (More info here.) Today we are talking about Principle 28.
Principle 28 reads in full as follows:
We demand an end to involuntary psychiatric intervention.
Basic RationaleIn 1982, survivors and activists demanded an end to forced psychiatry. In 2006, the United Nations heard their plea. They approved the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which prohibits involuntary detention and forced interventions based on psychosocial disability. These are considered acts of discrimination that violate the right to equal protection under the law. Under the CRPD, people with psychosocial disabilities have the same rights to liberty, autonomy, dignity, informed consent, self-determination and security of the individual and property as everyone else.
Shortly thereafter, forced ‘treatment’ was also held to violate the United Nations Convention Against Torture:
States should impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock and mind-altering drugs, for both long- and short- term application. The obligation to end forced psychiatric interventions based on grounds of disability is of immediate application and scarce financial resources cannot justify postponement of its implementation.
Forced treatment and commitment should be replaced by services in the community that meet needs expressed by persons with disabilities and respect the autonomy, choices, dignity and privacy of the person concerned. States must revise the legal provisions that allow detention on mental health grounds or in mental health facilities and any coercive interventions or treatments in the mental health setting without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.More recently, psychiatry has mounted a counter-attack, arguing, as it always has, that society needs psychiatry to manage so-called 'problem people' and that they segregate, incapacitate and otherwise strip people of their basic human rights for 'their own good.'
In early 2016, Tina Minkowitz, president and founder of the Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, single-handedly spearheaded an international campaign to respond. The call to action, known as the Campaign to Support CRPD Absolute Prohibition of Forced Treatment and Involuntary Commitment, sparked more than 40 contributions from activists, scholars, survivors and allies around the world. The breadth and depth of the contributions was truly amazing as you will see (and read in full!) from the links listed below. Ms. Minkowitz submitted these contributions to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on March 29, 2016.
Here is what she said:
Intervention by Tina Minkowitz at the opening of the 15th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – as delivered
September 28, 2016: Conference on Principle 28
We will talk about Principle 28, including your responses, on September 28 from 9-11 PM EST. Call-in details TBA.