Breivik dilemma

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W HUNTER Watson (Letters, 2 May) states that the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 (the 2003 Act) is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) with respect to electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). I believe it is also incompatible with respect to the admission process.

The Council of Europe in 2004 has stated that before a person is placed and treated for a mental illness, a fair and public hearing should take place. For example, Anders Breivik in Norway – who killed 77 people – was able to stand up in court and defend his actions publicly.

Breivik was able to examine the evidence and get legal assistance to show that he should not be put in a psychiatric institution.

Under the 2003 Mental Health Act this does not happen. A person can be detained and treated for 28 days under a Short Term Detention Certificate based on a single interview behind closed doors with a psychiatrist, without legal representation.

I have asked the Scottish Government about this anomaly but it has stated that it is up to me to test this in court. This I cannot do due to the costs involved.

W Hunter Watson has also asked the Scottish Government under a Freedom of Information request for the legal advice on whether the 2003 Act is compatible with ECHR and this was refused.

If the Scottish Government wishes a fair society in the run-up to the independence referendum, it should amend the 2003 Act so that it is compatible in all respects with the ECHR.

Andrew Muir

Crosslet Avenue