BMH UK’s concern over the highly coercive practices and often lethal force used against people from the UK’s African Caribbean communities who come into contact with mental health services or the police when in crisis was raised by MacAttram at the 14th session of WGPAD last week.
Held at the Palais Des Nations in Geneva from Monday 31st March to Friday 4th April, this year’s thematic discussion is on Access to Justice.
During the 5 day conference MacAttram spoke from the floor of the session to the WGPAD about BMH UK’s concerns set out in a 10 page dossier on issues including: the disproportionate use of the Mental Health Act against black people; inappropriate use of police cells as places of safety; the absence of independent advocacy for those detained under the Act; the coercive treatment of black patients while detained in hospital; the unethical practice of night time confinement in high security hospitals; the squalid conditions on inpatient wards; police presence on wards; deaths in custody, and the disproportionate use of Taser against black people.
Drafts of this dossier were made available to experts on the WGPAD and delegates from around the world who attending this session. BMH UK’s work this week broke new ground as it was the first time that such issues facing black Briton’s have been presented to international experts and representative of UN member states in an international human rights forum.
Matilda MacAttram, director of BMH UK and fellow of the UN WGPAD said : ‘The international human rights community were not aware of the human rights abuses suffered by black people who are subject to detention under the Mental Health Act living in the UK until I made BMH UK’s presentation from the floor at this year’s session of the WGPAD in Geneva.
It has been rewarding to see that the concerns set out in our BMHUK 10 page dossier for the WGPAD on the violations under a number of treaties that the UK has signed up to including Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) has now been brought to their attention in a way that will ensure that it is included in their future work.
Because of concerns that we have raised we are hoping that it will also be included in the Programme of Action for the Decade of People of African Descent , which was proclaimed during this weeks’ session.
The work of the UN and particularly the WGPAD has very important implications for people from African Caribbean communities living in the UK so I welcomed the opportunity to attend this year’s Session.’
Interview with Matilda MacAattram will be broadcast on the list of radio programmes listed below:
BBC Northampton Presenter Mark Dean
BBC Three Counties Presenter Nesta McGregor
BBC Radio Merseyside Presenter Ngunan Adamu
BBC Radio Nottingham Presenter Dawne B
BBC West Midlands Presenters Joe Aldred and Nikki Tapper
BBC Leicester Presenter Dulcie Dixon
BBC West Presenter Kevin Philemon
BBC Derby Presenter Devon Daley