The system of punishment rather than treatment

Kyiv, 23 November 2015 – The Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights and international mental health care experts from the UK, the Netherlands, and Lithuania conducted site visits to psychiatric institutions to assess the current forensic psychiatry system in Ukraine.

12265894 984489371617509 2959999423208663131 oUkrainian forensic psychiatric and prison mental health care still suffer from the after-effects of Soviet psychiatric practice. The central problem in this respect is the absence of standards of mentally-disturbed offenders' treatment as well as a clear procedure leading to absence of a rehabilitation plan for those who have been declared wholly or partially non-responsible. Thus, in order to provide adequate care, a long-term vision needs to be developed for the whole sector, involving all aspects of forensic psychiatric service delivery.
To respond to this long-standing issue, UNDP has supported the Office of the Ombudsperson and the Human Rights in Mental Health Foundation (FGIP - Global Initiative on Psychiatry) to conduct a first-ever assessment of the mental health and forensic psychiatric services system in Ukraine to develop a long-term vision for the sector as well as to build monitoring capacity of the National Preventive Mechanism in Ukraine.
The monitoring expert group visited Ukrainian Psychiatric Hospital with Strict Supervision, Enhanced Supervision Department of Dnipropetrovsk Clinical Psychiatric Hospital, Maltsev Poltava Regional Clinical Hospital, and Kyiv Regional Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Medical Association, which provide psychiatric assistance to persons with compulsory medical measures applied to them.
The team concluded that the anti-terrorist operation in the east led to increasing patient overload in hospitals in Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk regions, and this resulted in lower quality of services they provide. In addition, a difficult economic situation in the country makes negative impact on forensic psychiatry.
At the same time, international experts noted that the system itself existed only for the restriction of freedom and total control over patients medicated against their will.
The duration of treatment is depends on the severity of the crime, but not by the severity of a person's disease. In the absence of proper rehabilitation, patients lose social ties and labour skills. "Patients' employment is called rehabilitation, patients' unpaid work is called work therapy," emphasised Algimantas Liausdas who heads a similar institution in Lithuania.
The forensic psychiatry system needs to be reformed due to its current inefficiency, as the monitoring group expressed its unanimous opinion. Suggestions and recommendations to address these and other shortcomings will be highlighted in the Special Report of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.