On 25 March, an online advocacy toolkit against the draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention was presented by the European Disability Forum (EDF) and Mental Health Europe (MHE) at an event on ending coercion in mental health healthcare.
The advocacy toolkit aims to highlight that since 2014 the Council of Europe, a regional organisation composed of 47 European countries, and its Committee of Bioethics are working on a piece of legislation to regulate involuntary treatment and placement in psychiatry – the so-called “draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention”.
This initiative has been highly criticised by users and survivors of psychiatry, organisations of persons with disabilities such as EDF and Autism-Europe, other civil society organisations, bodies within the Council of Europe and experts from the United Nations (UN), including the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Despite the opposition, member states of the Council of Europe have continued to support the work on this draft protocol, ignoring their obligations under international law. A final draft has been approved and will be voted on in June 2021 within the Committee of Bioethics, for final adoption at the end of 2021 or early 2022.
The advocacy toolkit informs various stakeholders about an initiative of the Council of Europe seeking to regulate the involuntary placement and treatment of persons with mental health problems in psychiatric institutions. It offers tools to advocate against such initiative that, if adopted, would allow for human rights violations all across Europe. Released today EDF and MHE together with numerous stakeholders, including Autism-Europe, are strengthening efforts to oppose the draft and request the withdrawal of the protocol.
Campaign to #WithdrawOvideo
Autism-Europe, along with the European Disability Forum, the European network of (Ex)-Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, Mental Health Europe, Inclusion Europe and the International Disability Alliance is running a campaign to call for the immediate withdrawal of the draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention as it violates the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We urge States to focus on and develop alternative measures to forced treatment and institutionalisation, in collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities
The Oviedo Convention
Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, better known as the Oviedo Convention, is a European legally binding instrument on the protection of human rights in the biomedical field. It establishes that human rights must come before other considerations in the field of biomedicine. It lays down a series of principles and prohibitions concerning bioethics, medical research, consent, rights to private life and information, organ transplantation, public debate, etc.
Despite its name, the “Draft Additional Protocol concerning the protection of human rights and dignity of persons with a mental disorder with regard to involuntary placement and involuntary treatment” would not protect such persons and would authorize some forms of involuntary placement and treatment of persons with disabilities.