The draft of an additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention has been discussed during the meeting of the Committee on Bioethics of the Council of Europe. The aim of the draft is to rule the involuntary treatment of people with mental disorders, but this discipline raises issues from human rights associations who propose alternative solutions to this issue and claim the respect of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which 46 out of 47 Council of Europe member states have ratified, and guarantees people with disabilities, including people with psychosocial disabilities, or mental health conditions, equal rights to liberty and health care based on informed consent(article 25/d).

The Committee on Bioethics met on the 21st of November in Strasbourg. At their previous meeting in May they had decided to send the text to different bodies of the Council of Europe for opinions. Concerns were expressed already since many years by different bodies of the Council of Europe, UN experts, human rights organizations and organization of persons with disabilities. Many criticisms were raised in September in the consultation of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneve.



The road of the protocol

“It is a protocol that Committee on Bioethics is working on from the 2013” said Marine Uldry of the European Disability Forum. It began with a proposal discussed by the Steering Committee on Bioethics of the Council of Europe in 2011. This Committee received its mandate directly from the Committee of Ministers (made up of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of CoE member States). The situation after the meeting of the Committee on Bioethics is far from being made clear, with some countries like Bulgaria, Portugal and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia who have rejected it. “It’s all hanging in the balance – Uldry explained – We are concerned that our preoccupation has not been received by the Committee on Bioethics”.

“The draft Protocol does not promote the use of involuntary measures – explained the Council of Europe in the FAQ about the purpose of the protocol – On the contrary, it aims at preventing abuses and at minimizing the use of such measures in a threefold way: by promoting the use of alternatives to involuntary measures; by providing safeguards to ensure that involuntary measures are only used as a last resort; by ensuring that if such measures are used, then the person concerned receives appropriate support and procedural safeguards that enable them to effectively exercise their rights”.

The draft should return of the bench of the Committee on Bioethics on another meeting, that anyway has not been scheduled yet. Probably the Committee will meet again on spring of 2019.

The additional protocol will have to be approved by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. If it will happen, individual countries will be able to choose to ratify it and be included in the discipline of protocol. But there are also proposals for alternatives. Click here if you want to know more about.

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