The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Right to Be Free from Nonconsensual Psychiatric Interventions
Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce, Vol. 34, No. 2, Spring 2007
24 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2009
Date Written: April 21, 2007
It is the contention of this paper that forced psychiatric interventions violate the universal prohibition of torture. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) lays the basis for this argument to be developed in a series of steps, starting from its recognition of equal legal capacity and free and informed consent of persons with disabilities, and equal right to respect for physical and mental integrity, as well as the freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. These obligations, contained in Articles 12, 25, 17, and 15 respectively, will require immediate cessation of forced psychiatric interventions. But there is a need to go further, and examine the serious nature and consequences of forced psychiatric interventions as a violent assault, in most cases sanctioned if not perpetrated by the state, affecting every aspect of a person’s life: the body, the mind, the personality, the social relationships, and the spiritual values or higher meaning. Based on an examination of these factors, and the internationally accepted definitions of torture, I will argue for recognition of forced psychiatric interventions as a grave violation of human rights, necessitating criminalization of perpetrators and reparations for victims and survivors.
Keywords: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, torture, free and informed consent, psychiatric interventions
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation