Forced psychiatric treatment still alive in parts of Europe

August 13, 2013

For those who think that the phenomenon of forced psychiatric treatment of human rights defenders has disappeared with the end of the cold war, here are two reminders from Front Line that this is unfortunately still continuing:Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

The first case is in the Ukraine and had at least a ‘happy’ ending: on 8 August 2013, the Appeals Court of Zaporizhzhya repealed the earlier decision of Kommunarskiy District Court to confirm the forced psychiatric hospitalisation of human rights defender Ms Raisa Radchenko. The Ombudsperson for the protection of human rights, Ms Valeriya Lutkovskaya, was present during the Appeals Court hearing. Raisa Radchenko is a 70 year-old civil society activist and a member of several local civil initiatives in the Zaporizhzhya region. She was arrested on 12 July 2013 and held in a psychiatric hospital until her release on 26 July 2013. For further information on Raisa Radchenko, see the appeal: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/23448

The second case plays in Kazakhstan

On 9 August 2013 four police officers and medical staff broke the door of the apartment of human rights lawyer Ms Zinaida Mukhortova and forced her into an ambulance, which brought her to the psychiatric hospital of Balkhash. Zinaida Mukhortova is a lawyer with more than 10 years’ legal practice. She has also provided the local population with free legal consultations and has denounced cases of corruption and interference of political interests in the judiciary. Zinaida Mukhortova’s legal representative, Amangeldy Shormanbaev, called the deputy head of the psychiatric hospital and inquired about the reasons of her confinement. He was told that it was because she had previously refused hospitalisation. When Amangeldy Shornmanbaev notified the doctor that such refusal cannot be a legal reason for forced psychiatric treatment of a person, the phone was hung up.

In September 2009, Zinaida Mukhortova with three other lawyers sent a complaint to the president of Kazakhstan on the interference in the administration of justice by Member of Parliament Nigmatullin. In response to this complaint, a criminal investigation was launched against the human rights lawyer for “deliberate false filing of a complaint”. On 12 February 2010, she was arrested and in July 2010, a psychiatric examination was ordered in the Almaty psychiatric centre and Zinaida Mukhortova was diagnosed with a ‘delusional disorder’. On 5 August 2010, the Balkhash city court recognised her as guilty but not legally responsible due to her supposed mental illness, but she continued to be detained in temporarily detention facilities rather than a hospital.  On 12 January 2011, she was sent to the regional psychiatric hospital in Aktas village, where she was forcibly administered unknown medication. She was released on 22 September 2011, after promising that she would not appeal their psychiatric report. During the three examinations that were carried out while she was in detention, the doctors informally confirmed her sanity but kept the official diagnosis unchanged due to external pressure and out of fear that she would appeal the psychiatric report.

On 9 January 2012, the Supreme Court ruled the case she was defending to be re-considered, a new examination was ordered in the same Almaty psychiatric centre and the diagnosis was confirmed. On 26 July 2012, the Balkhash city court ruled that the case was closed due to the absence of corpus delicti (‘body of crime’). In September 2012, Zinaida Mukhortova’s sanity was certified by an independent medical expert invited by local human rights defenders defending her case. The court, however, rejected this report to be part of her file. She filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which is due to be reviewed in August 2013. Recently, a nurse has been coming to the human rights defender’s house every month, requesting her to appear in the psychiatric clinic for a check-up. She has also been receiving official notifications with the same request. Zinaida Mukhortova has not responded to the requests, nor did she open the door or go to the psychiatric facility, out of fear that she would be forced to undergo new treatment.

One Response to “Forced psychiatric treatment still alive in parts of Europe”

  1. Olga Brajnović Says:

    Reblogged this on Blognovic's Weblog and commented:
    An article about a practice that persists: forced psychiatric treatment for arrested human rights activists in Ukraine and Kazakhstan


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