Anthony Milne is one of the signatories of the Cape Town Declaration against forced and coerced psychiatric procedures, which calls for the development of alternatives to psychiatry. Anthony was detained by the authorities on March 20 earlier this year and has been in a lock-up ward without legal representation for the past months. Regardless of his status as a “disabled person” such a situation is clearly unlawful and illegal.

The issue, as far as we are able to determine is the flagrant denial of Anthony’s rights under article 12 of South Africa’s constitution guaranteeing freedom and security of the person:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person,
which includes the right ­
1. not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just
cause;
2. not to be detained without trial;
3. to be free from all forms of violence from either public or
private sources;
4. not to be tortured in any way; and
5. not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or
degrading way.

2. Everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity,
which includes the right ­
1. to make decisions concerning reproduction;
2. to security in and control over their body; and
3. not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments
without their informed consent.

Unfortunately, the Mental Health Care Act of 2002 was written in a vacuum, and makes no allowance for legal representation, and the only input on patients rights is before a board of inquiry made up of the same kind of “experts” that we have rejected as being hopelessly prejudiced. As far as we can see, there exists no independent review board on Mental Health in South Africa. In any event a patient should have a right to representation and self-determination whenever decisions are made which impact on /habeous corpus/ common law rights and rights granted by the constitution against detention without trial.

The recent Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), to which South Africa is a signatory, has affirmed such rights, but there appears to be no implementation and the necessary legislation has not been debated, let alone, drafted and passed.

As friend and acquaintances of Anthony, we are also extremely concerned about his health and welfare and future prospects, given that there has been no attempt to provide the most basic primary health care such as acceptable dental treatment. It is surely a violation of human rights to insist on extraction of teeth? Anthony deserves a fair hearing and recourse to the law, as well as humane dental treatment.

We therefore appeal to you to prevail upon the relevant authorities on Anthony’s behalf, as we appear to lack the means and resources to retain a lawyer and previous appeals have thus far come to naught. Despite this failing, a legal solution needs to be found, otherwise the Cape Town Declaration is doomed to bind all of us to psychiatric slavery instead of being a clarion call for action against oppression.

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