UN: Ensure No One is Detained in Any Kind of Mental Health Facility


The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, authoritative body that interprets this treaty, has now confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that all mental health incarceration violates Article 14 of the CRPD.

In their Concluding Observations on Austria, the Committee said:

The Committee is deeply concerned that Austrian laws allow for a person to be confined against his or her will in a psychiatric institution where they have a psychosocial disability and it is forecast that they might endanger themselves or other persons. The Committee is of the opinion that the legislation is in conflict with article 14 of the Convention because it allows a person to be deprived of their liberty on the basis of their actual or perceived disability.

The Committee urges the State Party to take all necessary legislative, administrative and judicial measures to ensure that no one is detained against their will in any kind of mental health facility. It urges the State party to develop deinstitutionalization strategies based on the human rights model of disability.

The Committee also urges the State party to ensure and that all mental health services are provided based on the free and informed consent of the person concerned. It recommends that the State allocate more financial resources to persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities who require a high level of support, in order to ensure that there are sufficient community based outpatient services to support persons with disabilities.

In their Concluding Observations on El Salvador (available only in Spanish), the Committee said:

Al Comité le preocupa que la discapacidad constituya un motivo de privación de libertad en el Estado parte. El Comité lamenta la ausencia de información sobre la situación de las personas con discapacidad psicosocial o intelectual recluidas en centros psiquiátricos y otras instituciones y sobre los recursos legales para controvertir medidas de internamiento involuntario. . Al Comité le preocupa la ausencia de ajustes razonables frente a personas con discapacidad privadas de la libertad en centros penitenciarios y otros centros de detención.

El Comit√© llama al Estado parte a abolir las normas que autorizan la privaci√≥n de libertad en raz√≥n de la discapacidad, que atribuyen a la discapacidad la posibilidad de generar da√Īo para si mismo u otras personas o le adscriben la necesidad de cuidado y tratamiento, y establecer los procedimientos id√≥neos para que los servicios de salud, incluida la salud mental proceda √ļnicamente previo el consentimiento libre e informado de la persona interesada.¬†El Comit√© llama al Estado parte a crear un mecanismo de vigilancia sobre las condiciones de las personas con discapacidad en centros carcelarios y otros centros de detenci√≥n y asegurar un marco normativo para proveer ajustes razonables que garanticen su dignidad.

All governments should take notice, and incarcerated people and human rights defenders should take heart from this welcome development.




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  1. Tina,

    I second the motion to give you a heartfelt thank you for your brilliant, hard work on behalf of those abused by the mental “health” system at the U.N. and in general.

    This is an excellent article as usual. You definitely deserve a medal!

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