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Conference of State Parties 2013

July 13, 2013

The World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, together with Disabled People International will be hosting a Side Event at the Conference of State Parties called: “Transforming Communities for Inclusion of Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities”, on 17 July 2013, from  4.45 to 6 p.m. in Conference Room 5.


Chair:                                                 Martha Laclave Giancola, Ph.D.

Opening Remarks:                         Shuaib Chalklen, the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability


Moosa Salie, Co-Chair, WNUSP:   ‘Legislative frameworks and persons with psychosocial disabilities.’

Jagannath Lamichhane, Board member, WNUSP: ‘The Crisis of Identity: Where do we belong?’

Jolijn Santegoeds, Co-Chair, WNUSP:  ‘Eindhoven Model – An alternative to forced psychiatry’.

Dorodi Sharma, Disabled People’s International: ‘Mental health advocacy & cross-disability alliances: Leaving no one behind’.

There will be a Question and Answer Session followed by Vote of thanks and Closure

Information on the session follows: 

Transforming Communities for Inclusion of Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities”

 Human Rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities

Widespread discrimination towards people with psycho-social disabilities / users and survivors of psychiatry is an obstacle to our meaningful inclusion in social, cultural and economic development. Entrenched discriminatory attitudes, reflected in traditional legislative frameworks and customary normative practices, drive our exclusion and also increase our risk to exposure to violence and the continued deprivation of our liberty and all other human rights.

WNUSP is an international organization of users and survivors of psychiatry / persons with psychosocial disabilities. WNUSP advocates for the repeal of any legal provisions that authorize detention or compulsory treatment in mental health settings; as well as any legal provisions that authorize guardianship or substituted decision-making.  WNUSP has been engaged in the drafting process of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UNCRPD recognizes that legal capacity is a right for all persons with all disabilities.

End discriminatory legislation

 Mental health legislation has been characterized by the regulation of detention and treatment even without consent (based on the erstwhile MI-principles).  Many policy debates are still about, how to make these regulations better enforceable. However, the system of coercive medical “treatment” and institutionalisation runs counter to the UNCRPD. Policy makers have tried to “improve”  the regulatory systems, but these systems are fundamentally bad by design, and not only by practice. These institution based designs and practices must be abolished, as they violate the human rights of people with psycho-social disabilities and we continue to remain socially isolated. WNUSP has made a clarion call for de-institutionalisation in countries of the world where mental health legislations and their institutions exist. In countries where institutions are very few, or do not exist, WNUSP is advocating that, in compliance with the UNCRPD, no new barriers must be created for the full inclusion of people with psychosocial disabilities.

End exclusion from the community

By the extended frameworks of forcible detention and treatment, users and survivors of psychiatry get completely excluded from access to development on equal basis with others. Life largely revolves around struggles for finding competent legal assistance, having reasonable accommodations within the court system, and facing the indomitable challenges of discharge; and once discharged, surveillance by the state machinery on lifestyle and choices; restricted employment opportunities which are directed by paternalism and stereotypes; ‘psycho-education’ into compulsory medication in the name of community treatment; an insurance driven by diagnosis; struggles for housing, continuing higher education, maintenance and welfare; curtailment of liberty on a variety of life fronts, including within neighbourhoods, communities, and public spaces.

WNUSP recognizes that many countries of the world do not have a mental health law, and further, they do not need one; rather, they need to review their legislation to determine if such legal provisions exist elsewhere and repeal them. Comprehensive disability legislation or a health care legislation can cover all human rights and right to health provisions, instead of a separate legislation. WNUSP has serious reservations on any type of specific legislations in the field of mental health, as they result in discrimination, loss of autonomy and personhood, leading to the imposition of inhuman, degrading and torturous practices in the name of treatment. For example, a new legislation in India seeks to legalise lobotomy.

End the colonial incapacity approach

 Several south countries and countries of the commonwealth continue to have the colonial incapacity provisions on a number of life dimensions: contracting, owning property, marriage, divorce, adoption, having a bank account, suffrage, giving or refusing consent to health care, choosing a place of residence, etc. All countries should have anti-discrimination and human rights legislation that guarantees the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities comprehensively in all areas of life on an equal basis with others, including the right to have and exercise legal capacity in all these areas of life. Without this full autonomy and legal capacity, our invisibility will not even allow us to claim our rights.

Within the above frame of reference for our advocacy, WNUSP seeks to engage all organisations in a dialogue on the full inclusion and effective participation of people with psychosocial disabilities from around the world, in the post-2015 agendas. Our perspectives must be integrated into any future international developmental goals.

We look to a world with no segregation, a world without institutions which are modelled after custodial institutions. We expect that states must give evidence of concrete actions taken in this direction such as reduction in admissions; ban on building more institutions and creating a legally regulated process of de- institutionalisation based on human rights principles and guided by the UNCRPD.

Alternatives to practices of coercion and institutionalisation must be seriously adopted as the way into the future; and this requires investments into Article 19 so that we can live independently and be included in our communities. Along with other marginalized groups, our future sustainable inclusion requires that our full range of human rights is addressed.




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