A GROUNDBREAKING declaration calling for an end to all forced and coerced psychiatric procedures and for the development of alternatives to psychiatry was signed at Cape Town ’s Robben Island Gateway in a ceremony held on Monday, March 24.
Members of MindFreedom International and local and international psychrights activists gathered to witness the historic occasion in which Mary Maddock, founder of MindFreedom Ireland, handed over the document to Moosa Salie of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry.
The declaration recognizes South Africa’s contribution to the struggle and the need to eliminate all forms of torture and coerced treatment. A spokesperson said: “South Africa has an admirable Bill of Rights, especially article 12 which grants all citizens the right to security in and control of the body, as well as bodily and psychological integrity”, but he cautioned against being too upbeat about current legislation, “Although South Africa has ratified the UN convention on the Rights of the Disabled which includes all those given psychiatric labels, notions such as self-ownership and the right to refuse treatment have yet to be incorporated in national legislation.
“We renew our fight today, against discrimination, injustice and for human rights in order to empower and improve the quality of life for those considered different or maladjusted, and others marginalized and disadvantaged by society, including those labeled with psychiatric disorders,” declares the groundbreaking document which follows on last years Declaration of Dresden opposing the use of forced electroshock, also known as Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) which is increasingly being used in poor and developing countries.
As more countries develop psychiatric services there is a significant increase in involuntary hospitalizations, forced treatment and drugging to conform to the biomedical model of human behaviour.
MindFreedom made news headlines when it assisted psychiatric patients fleeing detention in the United States under laws which have resulted in the incarcaration of people with different religious and political beliefs. The Declaration also follows last week’s ISAD conference in the city, sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.