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Warrant to section someone under Mental Health Legislation should be subject to human rights

Comment 1st July 2010

Under current mental health legislation a warrant is issued by a justice of the peace, sheriff or judge without a person being party to or present when the document is signed.  The system thereby deprives a person of liberty for 72 hours or one month and is subject to APPEAL.  Currently the system is abused and people who may not have a mental instability or who may not have a severe mental disability are deprived of their liberty contrary to Human Rights legislation, deprived of their ability to speak freely before a judge/jp/sheriff and who may also have an invasion of their privacy by police putting in their front door.  All of this is not monitored or evaluated by human rights legislation and the statutory body regulating mental health is the mental welfare commission NOT human rights commission.  It should be prima facia a human rights issue and people with or without mental health disability should be brought before the JP/Sheriff/Judge or the JP/sheriff/judge should be brought to the person to be detained prior to actual detention.  Moreover, the police should not be able to arrange for a person to be sectioned by writing to an MHO/RMO where a criminal offence is being stated to have been committed – it is not for the police to decide mental health issues it is for the police to investigate and a criminal record number should always be given.  The system is open to abuse and for police officers to fail to do their duty to people who may or may not have mental health disability.

Why does this matter?

The right to not be deprived of liberty, the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy are enshrined in human rights law.  The system is wide open to abuse in mental health law which starts with the warrant to detain.  The prima facia right for a person to have a fair hearing should not be processed on APPEAL.

Furthermore, human rights lawyers are not engaging with a statutory appeal under mental health legislation as they wait for the outcome of the compulsory treatment order hearing to see whether the person is to be detained as the outcome of this hearing will occur prior to an appeal of a short-term detention order.   This is severe abuse of human rights and deprivation of liberty for longer than a short term detention order permits.  The system is wide open to abuse and has lax procedures which are not adhered to by Tribunals, by Consultants or lawyers as they know they can short gap issues on the premis that they must not allow abuse of the legal aid fund.  A right to appeal is an important feature of a legal system even an inferior court such as a Tribunal system.  The issue is not academic in jurisprudence but a real infringement on liberty and the right to liberty.

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