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Reisverslag Opening of 11th session of CRPD Committee
31 maart 2014
Opening of 11th session of CRPD Committee
The session started at 10.00 AM, by several opening statements: By Ms. Flavia Pansieri the Deputy High Commissioner on Human Rights, by Ms Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes the chair of the CRPD Committee, and by Mr. Jorge Araya from the CRPD secretariat. Then also other UN bodies had time to make their statement, such as the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability Mr. Shuaib Chalklen (who could not be present), and also Unicef and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO, about accessible publications)
Then it was time for the opening statements of DPO’s and CSO’s (Disabled People Organizations and Civil Society Organizations)
Tina Minkowitz, the International Representative of WNUSP presented the opening statement of WNUSP. She spoke about the recent activities of WNUSP in the light of the work of the CRPD Committee, such as the progress that was made last week at the Human Rights Committee in regard to the Concluding Observations on the United States, which is coming more in line with the CRPD.
WNUSP warmly welcomes the draft General Comment on Article 12, which has attracted a large number of responses from DPOs, governments, NHRIs, academics and others from civil society. WNUSP believes that the Committee’s interpretation of Article 12 is correct in light of the negotiating history, as well as the purpose and principles of the CRPD. The new paradigm of Article 12, which fully respects the legal capacity and decision-making of all people with disabilities and offers support rather than replacing the person’s will by that of a substitute decision-maker, is at the heart of the Convention and is absolutely necessary to ensure the full legal and social equality of people with psychosocial disabilities (and we believe this to be true for people with intellectual disabilities as well).
WNUSP is also very happy with the Committee’s strong jurisprudence on Article 14 in September’s Concluding Observations, holding that no one should be detained in a mental health facility, that inpatient and outpatient commitment laws must be repealed, and that legislation that seeks to justify such detention on the grounds of danger to oneself or others is contrary to Article 14 and discriminates based on actual or perceived disability. We are also especially happy with the recognition that forced psychiatric interventions infringe the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment and must be banned, in the draft General Comment.
A bit later I also made a statement on behalf of users and survivors of psychiatry, as a founder of Mind Rights (www.mindrights.nl) , a Co-chair of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (www.wnusp.net) , and an active member of the European Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (www.enusp.org) .
I said that with Mind Rights in the Netherlands we have developed an alternative model to avoid forced psychiatric interventions, based on Family Group Conferencing, which is one possible model of supported decision-making. We are now expanding this pilot project to a European level.
At a European level, ENUSP notifies that the implementation of the CRPD is not all running smooth at all levels, such as the European Court on Human Rights and the Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights. At 11 March 2014, the Bureau of the Committee on Bioethics of the Council of Europe held a meeting in Paris with the drafting group for the preparation of an Additional Protocol on the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of Persons with Mental Disorder with regard to Involuntary Treatment and Involuntary Placement. This new draft protocol is contrary to the CRPD. Last week ENUSP send a letter to oppose this. We urge the Committee to actively engage in this process. This new protocol should not be made. If any action is taken on changing the treaties, then article 5.1.e of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights, which allows for detention of drug addicts, vagrants and “persons of unsound mind”, should be adjusted in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We urge the CRPD Committee to send a strong message to the Council of Europe.
I am very proud of making this opening statement, because in 2012 I already tried to raise this question at a European level, and I made a video-question in response to the invitation of Mr. Barroso, the president of the European Commission, who invited European citizen’s to raise their concerns. You can see it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvtEF9Weel0 . Then I found out there was a difference between the European Union, the European Commission and the Council of Europe. (and apparently I had addressed my question to the wrong person/organization, and I got no answer from mr. Barroso)
So I am glad I could raise this issue here today in an appropriate setting :)
After the opening statements of NGO’s it was lunchtime. It was already past 12.00.
I had an appointment for an interview by phone for the Dutch magazine GGZ Totaal (mental health total) and then I was on the phone for 45 minutes. By the time I was done, the lunchtime had already almost ended, but I still needed to eat, so I decided to take some time for that. I ate my lunch while talking to Shantha Rau Barringa of Human Rights Watch, who was interested in hearing more about my alternative model (Family Group Conferencing to avoid forced psychiatric treatments). Also Kriti and Jane from Human Rights Watch joined, and it was interesting to exchange information, and to hear about the projects of Human Rights Watch in India, Ghana and Zambia.
Then went back in the main meeting room for the CRPD Committee’s review on Sweden (closed NGO session). Maths Jesperson from Sweden had sent us information on the most important human rights issues in the mental health care system of Sweden. Based on the information of Maths, a statement on behalf of users and survivors of psychiatry in the session on Sweden was made by Mette Ellingsdalen, chair an Norwegian DPO for people with psychosocial disabilities who is member of World Network of users and survivors of psychiatry. She explained that we have received information from one of our Swedish members, and thank the committee and the Swedish DPOs for this opportunity to share this information.
Regarding Forced psychiatric interventions: Both forced hospitalization and forced treatment of people with psychosocial disabilities are legalized practices in Sweden and have a widespread use. Since the CRPD was ratified, Sweden has introduced Community Treatment Orders (Outpatient Commitment or Forced treatment in your own home) by a new law. There is also a proposal for a new law on forced psychiatric treatment, which will widen the criteria for forced treatment - with the explicit purpose to make it even more easy to force persons to psychiatric treatment than before. This shows that the Swedish government takes legislative steps that run counter to the provisions in CRPD, and is very worrying for the future implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Sweden in regard to people with psychosocial disabilities..
ECT (electroshocks) could be given by force in Sweden, and Sweden is one of the countries with the highest use of ECT. For some years ago I (Mette) participated in a Swedish television program that scrutinized the use of forced electroshock in Sweden, as I myself am a survivor of electroshock given without free and informed consent. This program presented very serious testimonies from Swedish citizens who suffered severe consequences and harm by this practice. The government has despite this not changed the law, and still allows for forced electroshock.
There is in Sweden a very high use of straps/belts by force (binding persons to the bed) - higher than in most other countries.
WNUSP is deeply worried about the situation for people with psychosocial disabilities in Sweden, and for the government’s lack of effort to ensure law and practice is in line with the CRPD, and we ask the committee to urge the Swedish government to ensure the protection of the human rights for people with psychosocial disabilities.
After the NGO-session the representatives of the Swedish government came in, and the CRPD Committee raised questions to the government. Then the Swedish government tried to answer these questions (not very good), and then the CRPD Committee had a second round of questions, which the Swedish government will answer tomorrow morning.
The questions raised by the CRPD Committee were challenging the government to give information. Some questions related to mental health issues were raised, such as: More information about the guardianship laws and the shift from substituted to assisted decision making and the details on the attempts and plans to modernize the laws in line with article 12 of the CRPD. More information on review of the law on incapacity and involuntary treatment. More information on deprivation of liberty based on disability (art 14). How does the Swedish government make sure that there are no forced sterilizations for anybody, including persons with disabilities, and reparations and compensation to the victims. More information on forced treatments and the use of electroshock as a treatment for persons with psychosocial disabilities, and more information on a decision of the Supreme Court regarding that “persons with disabilities cannot choose where to live due to disability (is this true and how will the damage be corrected). What is done on ill-treatment in mental institutions if there are signs that this happens? There was also a question on the increased suicide rates and what are the causes and what are the measures? These were interesting questions.
The session on Sweden lasted all afternoon, till 18.00. Tomorrow the Swedish government will give answers to the second round of questions.
After the session had ended Cedric came to pick us up by car at Palais Wilson, and we went back to the house in Ballens. On our way we stopped at the only supermarket that was still open, and bought some pizzas for dinner (none of us felt like cooking after such a long day). At home we ate the pizzas and then we had some more social time. Then Hege also arrived, so now our team is finally fully complete. It again has become very late. It is just too interesting to talk to my international colleagues. We just can’t stop discussing all the ins and outs of our struggle. And after all, there are not so many occasions to really link up with each other. It’s great to have this time together. It is really inspiring and nice.
It has been a long day. I need to get some sleep, otherwise I will be wasted soon. So good night!
1 april 2014 09:01 | Door: je moeder
Ga zo door Jolijn!
1 april 2014 19:49 | Door: Jan Verhaegh
schitterend werk, Jolijn!