Involuntary Treatment: The Legal Battle Over Human Rights in Mental Health

Fiala-Butora's analysis exposes a rift in mental health laws, challenging Europe to align with broader human rights standards.

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A new analysis critically examines the intricate and often conflicting legal frameworks governing mental health care in Europe, highlighting a significant clash between the CRPD’s human rights standards and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) current practices, especially concerning the rights of people with psychosocial disabilities.

The article questions the legitimacy and ethics of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization, restraints, and other forms of ill-treatment in mental health institutions, calling for a reevaluation of these practices to align with universal human rights standards.

The author, János Fiala-Butora, from the HUN-REN Centre for Social Sciences in Budapest and the University of Galway, points out the discrepancies and potential harmonization between the CRPD’s strict stance against involuntary detention for mental health treatment and the ECHR’s more permissive view under certain conditions.

Fiala-Butora, writes:

“The CRPD and the ECHR are currently interpreted differently. However, their text is not an obstacle to harmonizing the interpretation of the two instruments. Article 5 of the ECHR permits involuntary hospitalization but currently does not require it to be available. Psychiatric treatment only provided with consent would comply with both instruments.” 

This analysis not only reveals a gap in the application of human rights laws in the context of mental health but also underscores the need for a more nuanced understanding and implementation of these laws. By exposing the divergence in legal interpretations and the unexplored potential for reform, Fiala-Butora’s work challenges mainstream approaches to psychiatry and mental health treatment, urging a shift towards compliance with universal human rights standards that respect the dignity and autonomy of individuals with mental health conditions.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. There continues to be a perception that people with “mental illness” are more socially dangerous than people with body illnesses, and less able to think for themselves.

    The problem is that – strictly speaking – this may be true. BUT we have very weak legal methods to protect the rights of those accused of being mentally ill.

    Some assert that our legal system is bad enough at protecting the rights of persons accused of crimes. They argue that studies show that the poor and various minorities receive inferior protection. And from what I can tell, this is true.

    So we can only imagine how much worse the situation could be when the “accused” can be found “guilty” by the signature of a single psychiatrist. This gives too much power to psychiatry in a society that already has huge problems protecting the human rights of ordinary people.

    Of course, we have encountered extreme difficulty in establishing formal legal protections for people being pushed into the mental health system. Our only alternative is to properly educate legislators and the general public in the subject of psychology and in the basic skills of handling dramatizing people. The biggest obstacle to this has been dramatizing people in positions of power. These people weaken both the mental health system and the legal system – as well as many other social institutions. If we don’t learn how to get them under control fairly soon, they will continue to make living on Earth hellish.

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  2. I suffer with Mental Health issues. I also work in a Mental Health field. I feel that if you are suffering from a mental illness that is altering your reality then forced treatment should be available. I have to believe if someone was in their best mind then they would understand and want treatment. So if they are not. They cannot make that decision in that mindset. Even if it were me, I’d hope that it would be intervened with treatment. I live in the USA, but no one should force other countries into the decisions we find best. Maybe someone else knows better than we do? Besides we’re not so well off letting people be homeless because they can’t care for themselves. And we say it is their right? It is our excuse for ignoring them so we don’t have to deal with it.

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    • Jennifer, you demonstrate a great example of what I talk about in my comment.

      Your ideas are sensible. But we have seen where it takes us when we give authorities the power to “treat” or detain people without due process. Some use this power to go after personal or political “enemies.” We have to deal with the fact that some people in power are as or more nutty than you or me. They will cause needless death or destruction unless they are restrained from doing so, and that is why we advocate to protect the civil rights of people who are deemed “mentally ill,” just as we advocate for the civil rights of people accused of breaking the law. These people must go through a legal process that hopefully will protect them if they are wrongly accused or wrongly diagnosed. Only AFTER they have been through that process can they legally be “treated” or detained, as these actions are violations of their basic rights.

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      • “But we have seen where it takes us when we give authorities the power to “treat” or detain people without due process. Some use this power to go after personal or political “enemies.””

        I know I’ve seen where it takes ‘us’ when those in authority neglect their duty and enable the wholesale dismantling of the laws passed by Parliament designed to protect “consumers, carers and the community”. Still, when the State IS the criminal, one needs methods to deal with the whistleblower lest accountability become a thing.

        “We have to deal with the fact that some people in power are as or more nutty than you or me. They will cause needless death or destruction unless they are restrained from doing so, and that is why we advocate to protect the civil rights of people who are deemed “mentally ill,” just as we advocate for the civil rights of people accused of breaking the law.”

        And in my State they have been given carte blanche to cause death and destruction, and feel quite at ease letting the victims of their human right’s abuses and criminality know that this is the case. I was told by the Operation’s Manager of the hospital concerned that as a result of complaining about being arbitrarily detained and tortured that I (and my family) would be “fucking destroyed” . It’s such a shame they did that before anyone bothered to even check the facts and realise the vicious attack I and my family were subjected to. (the evidence/proof concealed [“edited”], why would anyone in the State bother?)

        ‘They’ did of course allow certain people to believe that something might actually be done about it, just to see where they would run…….. and ewwwwww how ugly it can be?

        “These people must go through a legal process that hopefully will protect them if they are wrongly accused or wrongly diagnosed. Only AFTER they have been through that process can they legally be “treated” or detained, as these actions are violations of their basic rights.”

        Like the people who arbitrarily detained and tortured me (and then disguised it as being lawful by calling it ‘mental health care’) Calling the police and telling them a lie that a citizen is a ‘mental patient’ with a weapon to have police cause an “acute stress reaction” to force the target to talk (and thus allow fraudulent Forms to be fabricated) and make the kidnapping look like a ‘Police referral’ is a crime under our Criminal Code. Well, it would be except the Police turn a blind eye whilst the hospitals are “editing” the evidence/proof and engaging in conspiracy to pervert the course of justice …….. They make a farce of the law, and the State provides material support in that regard by threatening legal representatives and their families.

        My ‘legal representative’ had a right to examine unredacted documents which would have enabled them to identify a large number of criminal offences which had been committed against me (including an attempt to murder. Paranoid? Yep, when there is no motive, but the documented proof of the crimes provides the motive. It might be best they check right? Hence the State concealing the motive [“editing”], and assisting those who would kill using hospital resources to conceal their wrongdoing). Instead, a complaint was drafted, and a response from the Chief Psychiatrist forged by my ‘legal representatives’, and handed to me, making the most bizarre claims *……. and the Minister fully aware of the ‘cover up’ ensures that the Police will neglect their duty to protect what are after all, organised criminals operating within the State system. The victim is referred by police back to the criminals for ‘treatment’ and ‘unintentional negative outcoming’ with benzos and morphine, causing “air hunger” (Chemical waterboarding?)

        They were of course being observed (hence my heartbeat still functioning despite the attempt to ‘snuff’ me in the E.D. but ……) and oh what a mess when they realised I still had not only the proof of the original crimes, but also the proof of the forging of a letter from the Chief Psychiatrist? And me talking to people who have a good knowledge of the ‘system’? No wonder the Police needed to know “Who else has seen the documents?” Some of them might have been smart enough to figure it out?

        There are mechanisms available to my State to ensure that certain people are never subjected to ‘due process’. Ask the people at the Private Clinic who unlawfully released my confidential medical records once I had been unlawfully detained as a direct result of their conspiring to stupefy with intent, and kidnap.

        My medical records not available lawfully unless I had been taken into custody……. so lets just arrange for him to be taken into custody and then release them? I’m sure you remember how this was achieved Larry?

        * It amazes me how many people recognised the ‘cover up’ from that forged letter (what it was designed to do I suppose, a coded message to others to leave well alone [while they murder the victim]), but who did absolutely nothing for fear of the repercussions of getting involved in reporting such gross criminal conduct.

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      • “Are you aware that if something is forced it’s not “treatment”?”

        What about when it’s ‘coerced’? I know the Private Clinic that I went to as a result of my Union/lawyer requiring a report was not a choice I would have made under any circumstances.

        This particular Doctor at this Private Clinic boasted the wealthiest man in the Nation and Members of Parliament as his ‘clients’ (“some people in power are as or more nutty than you or me” to quote Larry). My medical records would be safe given the Privacy Act at this place right? Well, apparently not …… they just needed to break the law to have me taken into custody and then it all became lawful AFTER that…. my medical records became public property. The State tortures and kidnaps me (with assistance of the Private Clinic psychologist and my ‘wife’), and then calls the Private Clinic psychologist who releases my medical records to them. Unfortunately I still wasn’t a “patient” despite the unlawful release of those records…. and thus what they did to bring about their desired outcome was a string of serious criminal offences….. but oh how they wished I had been. Procuring, intoxication by deception, stupefy with intent, conspire to pervert, forge prescriptions to conceal criminal offence, utter with forged documents……. all in a good cause of course. Amazing how you can claim such crimes have been done in “good faith” and people will believe you because ….. mental health. That despite their abysmal failure known by the public.

        This would not have been a good look for the Private Clinic. Fortunately they closed their doors and reopened the very next day under the same name once they got ‘tipped off’ about the ‘little problem’ they had with the law (and the “up to $10 million fine for breaches of the Privacy Act”). It took someone to notice that I still had the proof, and the race was on……….. every man for himself.

        Must be good money in tipping off such people so they can avoid accountability, and not be held responsible for the crimes committed by their employees……. who were becoming quite desperate to silence me at one point.

        I’ve no doubt that when they were rudely interrupted in the Emergency Dept that they were told they had been naughty little Vegemites and that they should try and stick to doing ‘medicine’ rather than get involved in such distasteful conduct.

        The Clinics reputation untouched, the naughty little Vegemites remain employed, and their victim is ‘flagged’ by the State for ‘forced treatment’ for speaking the truth and trying to have something done about the large number of crimes…… which are “edited” out of existence, and uttered with by my own ‘legal representative’ (I say this in the same sense that you speak about it not being treatment if it is forced. A lawyer who pretends to represent you whilst committing crimes with public officers is NOT your legal representative. It does make it easy to deal with any ‘little problems’ one might come across in the course of ones work when the law can be subverted/perverted by those charged with upholding it. A big shout out to the ‘lawyers’ at the Mental Health Law Centre, throwing clients under the bus for the State since the 1970s)

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