Victory for mental health advocates as Georgia declares current laws unconstitutional

georgian constitutional courtHuman rights and mental health campaigners in Georgia are celebrating a recent decision from their nation’s Constitutional Court which states that the current laws limiting the basic rights of mentally ill individuals breached Georgian constitutional law.

Under the current law individuals declared by a court as mentally ill or with severe learning difficulties can lose the right to their own freedom, including losing the right to such things as living alone or purchasing their own groceries. These laws, however, have now been declared as unconstitutional and will now be replaced by updated legislation.

Commenting on the decision the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) claimed that previous laws allowed for unfair restrictions to basic human rights, and did not take into account different levels of mental illness or learning difficulties. Under the now defunct laws Georgian courts had the right to severely limit the freedoms of people living with mental illness who were more than capable of caring for themselves.

GYLA also pointed out that these laws relied heavily on Soviet-era definitions and assumptions on mental health that have since been updated. One part of the laws even referred to mentally ill individuals as ‘dim-witted’.

Following this weeks announcement Georgian parliament are now required to draft new legislation that campaigners are hoping will maintain a more progress and informed view of mental health issues.

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