NSUN contributes to the Examination of the UK Government’s Adherence to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)
This Convention addresses inhumane and degrading treatment as well as actual torture. The UK government has signed up to the Convention and so is examined periodically for its adherence to it.
Because an examination is occurring this year, NSUN contributed to a report by REDRESS which has a lead role for collating evidence from civil societies for the UNCAT Committee.
NSUN also sent its own submission to the Committee; this was collated by Dorothy Gould. NSUN’s submission focused on issues not raised by other organisations, or not raised very fully:
- The extent of destitution which austerity measures have caused
- The inhumane approach represented by mental health law and the failure of the Mental Health Act Review to address these issues adequately
- Multiple discrimination and hate crime.
The UNCAT Committee has now had a meeting with civil society representatives in Geneva. Dorothy has represented NSUN at this (on a self-funding basis). At the meeting, each civil society had the chance to follow up its submission with a one minute, 10 second presentation (see below). Once the Committee has also completed its two-day examination of the UK government, a written report and recommendations will follow.
NSUN’s presentation to the UNCAT Committee
Following visits from the UNCRPD in 2015 and 2017 and last year’s visit from the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, there cannot be any doubt that levels of destitution in the UK amount to inhumane treatment and that people with mental health diagnoses have been disproportionately affected. Discrimination and hate crime against us are also prevalent, intersectional crime still more so.
It is hard, too, to see current mental health legislation in the UK as anything other than inhumane. Under this legislation, the use of detention in psychiatric institutions and forced treatment is misinterpreted as care. These measures are employed at the very times when we are most vulnerable and despite serious challenges to the scientific basis for psychiatric diagnoses and medication. We are also detained on the basis of potential risks to others, although no-one else is detained on this basis. Important though it has been to have a review, the recent Independent Mental Health Act Review falls short in recommending improvements, but not full human rights for us. We strongly appeal to the Committee to address these issues.