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UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur Reports On Abusive Drug Treatment

The UN Human Rights Council has released a "Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez" which examines the use of forced treatment and similar psychosocial interventions for drug users. As explained in the summary:


The present report focuses on certain forms of abuses in health-care settings that may cross a threshold of mistreatment that is tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It identifies the policies that promote these practices and existing protection gaps.

The thrust is that drug users should be treated not as subhumans, not as criminals, nor even as unwilling patients, but rather as human beings with dignity, respecting their rights. Forced interventions need to be weighed carefully against the innate human rights of people. As the report states:


The mandate continues to receive reports of the systematic use of forced interventions worldwide. Both this mandate and United Nations treaty bodies have established that involuntary treatment and other psychiatric interventions in health-care facilities are forms of torture and ill-treatment.79 Forced interventions, often wrongfully justified by theories of incapacity and therapeutic necessity inconsistent with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, are legitimized under national laws, and may enjoy wide public support as being in the alleged “best interest” of the person concerned. Nevertheless, to the extent that they inflict severe pain and suffering, they violate the absolute prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (A/63/175, paras. 38, 40, 41). Concern for the autonomy and dignity of persons with disabilities leads the Special Rapporteur to urge revision of domestic legislation allowing for forced interventions.

A copy of the Special Rapporteur's report can be downloaded from http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session...