Institutionalization & Detention

Today, while there is a multitude of organisations that work on different related topics such as the protection of human rights defenders, the prevention of ill-treatment in closed institutions under State control, or therapeutic support to help those with traumatic experiences to overcome mental health challenges, there is vacuum when working on psychiatry, and especially for persons with special psychiatric needs that live in closed institutions. These closed institutions can be categorized into those related to the hospitalization of mental health patients in psychiatric hospitals, the transfer of persons with mental health illnesses to social care homes as well as the detention of criminal offenders with mental health challenges in prison and other detention centers. Common to all types of detention is the control of the State, the closed environment to an outside view, and the restricted access of those detained to enjoy their rights. In such places, violations of human rights are quickly to occur, and, unless inflicted through misuse or abuse of psychiatry, a matter of perception, infrastructure, and management. All European countries face significant challenges concerning the provision of social care homes for older people, but especially in Central and Eastern European countries, the living conditions in such closed institutions are horrendous, 

Several international human rights treaties include elements on the duty of the state to uphold the dignity and rights of those detained, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), the Optional Protocol to the UNCA (OPCAT), and are complemented by regional treaties. The FGIP places give specific priority to the challenges at the intersection of human rights and mental health in detention. 

With a focus on the national level, the FGIP constantly advocates for the rights of persons with mental health challenges in detention with policymakers, bureaucrats and the media. We use our position as experts in the field to assess detention facilities around the world and publish analytical reports that contain specific recommendations on what needs to be done. 

With a particular focus on Ukraine, and together with our member organization in Ukraine, we share best practices on best ways to reform social care homes to allow their residents a life in dignity, and under humane living conditions. Wherever possible, we will engage proactively with the mental health profession and social organizations to ensure that detention is only used as a last resort, after all.