UN Calls for Ban on Non-Consenting “Medical” Interventions & State Condoned ECT Torture

Excerpted from CCHR’s submission to the FDA opposing its 2015 proposal to reclassify the ECT device as a Class II low risk device. CCHR’s submission was submitted in March 2016.

In 2013, Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People in Ireland stated that Ireland’s mental health law “will be changed so that unwilling patients will no longer be forced to receive ECT.”[1]

This aligned with the February 16, 2013, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment report that defined procedures such as electroshock without the consent of the patient as a form of torture.

The Rapporteur called upon states to “Impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock and mind-altering drugs such as neuroleptics….”[2]

The UN committee’s mandate “held that the discriminatory character of forced psychiatric interventions, when committed against persons with psychosocial disabilities, satisfies both intent and purpose required under the article 1 of the Convention against Torture, notwithstanding claims of ‘good intentions’ by medical professionals….The doctrine of medical necessity continues to be an obstacle to protection from arbitrary abuses in health-care settings. It is therefore important to clarify that treatment provided in violation of the terms of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – either through coercion or discrimination—cannot be legitimate or justified under the medical necessity doctrine.”[3]

Additionally, in 2018, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) supported a ban on all forced medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the administration of electroshock, psychosurgery, and mind-altering drugs.[4] HRC put it strongly stating that a according to its “Mental health and human rights” report, countries “should reframe and recognize these practices as constituting torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment….”[5]

And yet in the U.S. and in countries throughout the world, ECT is often given against a patient’s wishes and without his or her consent.  Therefore, psychiatrists are given state license to torture in the name of mental health “care.”

References:

[1] “Minister Lynch: ‘Unwilling’ patients no longer to receive electric shock therapy,” TheJournal.ie, 22 Jul 2013,http://www.thejournal.ie/electro-shock-therapy-unwilling-patients-ireland-983018-Jul2013/

[2] A/HRC/22/53, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez,” United Nations, General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Twenty-second Session, Agenda Item 3, 1 Feb. 2013, p. 21, para 85, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A.HRC.22.53_English.pdf.

[3] Ibid., pp. 7-8, Para 32

[4] A/HRC/22/53, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez,” United Nations, General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Twenty-second Session, Agenda Item 3, 1 Feb. 2013.

[5] “Mental Health and Human Rights,” United Nations Human Rights Council, 39th session; 10–28 Sept. 2018, https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/MentalHealth/A_HRC_39_36_EN.pdf.

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