the CRPD, if implemented, require the abolition of guardianship, forced psychiatry and other such deprivations of liberty and self-determination linked with disability. In the CRPD discussions, forced psychiatric interventions were named as torture, but due to various factors our proposed language did not stay in the final text. However, a year after the adoption of the CRPD, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights held a seminar in which this topic was considered by torture experts, and it is an emerging issue in human rights advocacy. Recognizing forced psychiatry as torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment will be a significant step forward in making this human rights violation visible as a matter of international law.
Users and survivors of psychiatry face great challenges in implementing the Convention, due to skepticism, lack of familiarity or understanding, hostility and discrimination, and entrenched interests that stand to lose professionally or financially if our rights are fully respected. But with the Convention, we have matured into a new phase of advocacy as recognized human rights defenders, with the backing of an international legal instrument and visibility at the United Nations. Advocates need to understand the Convention and its implications for their work, in order to take advantage of new opportunities to bring about our vision of a world where we can live freely and be accepted as we are, with or without support according to our own choices.
This presentation will discuss the role played by users and survivors of psychiatry in the drafting and negotiation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and in continuing advocacy to make our human rights real. We will discuss the relevant provisions of the CRPD as well as the argument that nonconsensual psychiatric interventions amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. If time permits, we will address any emerging issues or challenges currently under way.
Tiffany F. Jones. History, California State University, San Bernardino
Murderers, Madmen and Practitioners: The Legacy of Apartheid on South Africa’s Mental Health and Criminal Justice System
There is a crisis currently in South Africa’s judicial and mental health care system. Three hundred potentially criminally insane individuals are awaiting trial who have been housed for over a year in prison before they can be observed for the legally-prescribed thirty day period in an observation ward at various mental institutions. Reports of murders by released patients have increased over the past few years, and practitioners have admitted to having to release potentially “unstable state patients” prematurely because of the lack of resources” (Maughan, 2006: 6). This situation is not new, however. Throughout the apartheid years, government policies contributed to similar human rights violations and formed the foundation upon which present-day policy is established. This paper, therefore examines forensic psychiatric policies and practices during apartheid. In doing so, it asserts that South Africa’s mental health institutions and psychiatrists were not simply, as scholars in other historical circumstances have suggested, custodial agents of the state. In the years leading up to apartheid and