Russell Tribunal on Human Rights in Psychiatry

An investigation into human rights violations in psychiatric practice and mental health legislation as its legal framework is due. The Vietnam War Crimes Tribunal of 1966 had taken the chance, after Auschwitz, to face their responsibility as humankind and not to turn away again. After the last century of manslaughter and cruelty the Berlin Tribunal wants to follow the Russell tradition and take up on an historic chance to state a case against the crime of silence. Bearing in mind the horrors of war, destruction and murder the last century has seen and considering that they did not come to an end with it, we believe that Russellís appeal is of interminable value to the coming century in its quest for the enforcement of human rights. If it is true that what you fail to achieve presently cannot but be a future commitment, this century will have as one of its major concerns a more effective attitude towards human rights.

The Russell Tribunal on Human Rights in Psychiatry will inquire into the nature of psychiatric diagnosis and ask whether certain psychiatric practices might routinely violate fundamental human rights. The opening of the trial will take place in Berlin in the summer of 2001. The Tribunal plans to move on to New York and to Jerusalem. The final verdict will be pronounced there, while in Berlin and in New York concluding statements on the preceding inquiries will be made. Witnesses and experts will be heard in all three locations. The focal issues of the Berlin part of the Tribunal will be the historical bearings of psychiatry and the laws, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Mental Health Legislation, as well as censorship and stigmatization.