In Cork, Ireland, Mary Maddock, one of the founders of MindFreedom Ireland, submitted an official petition to the government of Ireland, and a copy of the text is here. Mary challenges the legality of Irish policy on forced psychiatric drugging. Mary presented the petition to the European Union Petitions Committee durings its tour of Ireland.
Mary Maddock of MindFreedom Ireland
Update: 19 February 2008
The following reply was received from Marcin Libicki, chairman, committee on petitions, to the MindFreedom Ireland petition (see copy at bottom).
Dear Ms Maddock, I would like to inform you that the Committee on Petitions considered your petition and decided that the issues which you raise are admissible in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, insofar as the subject matter falls within the sphere of activities of the European Union., The committee began its examination of your petition and decided to ask the European Commission to conduct a preliminary investigation of the various aspects of the problem. The committee will continue its examination of your petition as soon as it is in receipt of the necessary information. I will keep you informed of any further action taken on your petition in due course.
Yours sincerely, Marcin Libicki.
Below is the original news release announcing the petition in June 2007:
CORK, IRELAND: At a meeting in Cork on Thursday, 28 June 2007, human rights activist Mary Maddock, psychiatric survivor and founder-member of MindFreedom Ireland presented her petition to the European Union Petitions Committee, currently touring Ireland.
Her petition is entitled ‘The Illegality of Ireland’s Mental Health Act of 2001 as it Concerns the Forced Use of Mind Altering Drugs on Unwilling patients.’ A copy of the petition text is below.
A second petition on the same issue was presented by John McCarthy, well known activist who stood as a candidate in the recent general election specifically on the issue of mental health.
The Petitions Committee, which is gathering petitions on a number of different issues, includes Irish MEPs Kathy Sinnott, Mairead McGuinness and Proinsais De Rossa. Ms. Sinnott is Vice-Chair of the Committee.
The Illegality of Ireland’s Mental Health Act of 2001 as it Concerns the Forced Use of Mind Altering Drugs on Unwilling Patients
Petition by: Mary Maddock
Petition Host: Kathy Sinnott, Member of the European Parliament [MEP] from Ireland South
My’treatment’ began in 1976 after the birth of my first child. Withlittle or no discussion it was decided I needed medical treatment, i.e.drugs, mainly a nueroleptic called largactil, and a little later ECT [electroconvulsive therapy] asI had a chemical imbalance in my brain, without having any medicaltests to make this diagnoses. I believe this to be the same as forcedtreatment, and I was forcefully treated with so many injections that tothis day I remember the pain and soreness from the many shots.
Igot no information about the treatment I received and was not capableof evaluating it myself as it is proven now that nueroleptic drugscause a chemical lobotomy. I know this to be true from personalexperience as simple tasks were a nightmare to perform and I was out oftouch with my emotions.
I managed to survive this firstonslaught for 7 yrs, but in 1982 I was a victim of psychiatry again andsoon I was diagnosed as a manic depressive and was chemicallylobotomised once again, this time by three different substances:largactil, surmontil and lithium. I remained on a combination of drugsfor almost 20 yrs: on lithium and largactil for most of the time and onall three drugs for over 10 yrs.
I am now completely free fromdrugs for over 7 yrs and at almost 60 years old am leading a healthyand free life in body, mind, and spirit.
With the adoption ofthe Mental Health Act of 2001 (MHA), Ireland’s doctors now have theability to legally force an unwilling patient to continue to takemedication for real or perceived mental illness.
The applicable text of sec. 60 reads:
60- Where medicine has been administered to a patient for the purposes ofameliorating his or her mental disorder for a continuous period of 3months, the administration of that medicine shall not be continuedunless either:
(a) the patient gives his or her consent in writing to the continued administration of that medicine, or
(b) where the patient is unable or unwilling to give such consent:
(i)the continued administration of that medicine is approved by theconsultant psychiatrist responsible for the care and treatment of thepatient, and
(ii) the continued administration of that medicine isauthorised (in a form specified by the Commission) by anotherconsultant psychiatrist following referral of the matter to him or herby the first-mentioned psychiatrist
Theramifications of this section of the MHA are startling, as whathappened to myself can now be forced upon unwilling Irish citizens iftwo doctors believe it to be in the best interest of the patient, evenwithout any objective standards of testing.
My friend andcolleague John McCarthy was a delegate to the UN in regards to therecent convention on the rights of the disabled. The treaty, asoriginally worded in art. 17, left open a number of loopholes whichwould have allowed States Parties the ability to force involuntarytreatment on a patient.
His lobbying helped rewrite art. 12so that it now reads that “every person with disabilities has a rightto respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equalbasis with others.” Furthermore, art. 14 states that the disabled shallenjoy the same rights to liberty and security of their persons as thenon-disabled, and that the existence of a disability does not “justifya depravation of liberty.” As of 30 March, 2007, both Ireland and theEU are signatories to the convention, and it is therefore binding lawon both bodies.
Even before this, the Council of Europecreated Europe’s most important human rights document, the EuropeanConvention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms(1950), which offers protection inter alia of privacy (Article 8);against inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3); against arbitrarydeprivation of liberty (Article 5); and against discrimination inconjunction with other substantive rights (Article 14). I recognizethat the EU does not have the authority to enforce these articles, butthis document set the precedent for the above UN convention, and isbinding on Ireland and every other nation that is current member stateof the EU.
I strongly believe that the above portion of the MHAare in clear violation of international law, and respectfully ask thatthe EU, via the petitions committee, recommend that the involuntaryforced use of mind altering medications in Ireland be stoppedimmediately.
- Committee Draft on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 13 Feb., 2006, available at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7report-e.htm#recomm.
- Text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 6 Dec., 2006, available at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/convtexte.htm.
- “EU Makes Limited Pledge on Disabled Rights,” available at http://www.euractiv.com/en/socialeurope/eu-limited-pledge-disabled-rights/article-162931.
- Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 4 Nov., 1950, available at http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/005.htm.