Dutch MP's against forced observation for disturbed persons

Edith Schippers (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commonst)Edith Schippers (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commonst)

The lower house of Dutch parliament is against a measure proposed by Health Minister Edith Schippers (VVD) to force disturbed persons to be admitted for observation if needed, government party PvdA confirmed to NU.nl.

"Vulnerable people with mental illness can better be helped by giving them the proper care sooner, so that the violent measure of forced admission can be prevented", PvdA parliamentarian Lea Bouwmeester said to the newspaper. "That should really be first to order, before state coercion is used."

Schippers' proposal states that disturbed people can forcibly be admitted and medicated for three days. This is an amendment to the mandatory mental health legislative, party created at the request of mayors, according to AD. Larger cities in particular often face problems from people who show disturbed behavior, but do not pose a threat. 

Critics argue that this measure will not always be used in the patient's best interest, but to secure people who could pose a threat to public order. During the 72 hours submission, no psychological treatment will be given. Opponents also worry that the legal protection of the affected people may be threatened, because the measure can be imposed without judicial intervention.

SP parliamentarian Renske Leijten presented an amendment that states that in the 18 hours prior to compulsory admittance, the person in question should be given compulsory treatment. It may be that the treatment calms the person and makes the situation manageable. The new plan also states that a prosecutor should submit an application for compulsory admission to the court. And the court does not have to admit someone for the full 72 hours, but can, for example, rule that the person in question has to be medicated instead. If the patient does not cooperate, he or she can be taken to a mental health institution for a short period, for example long enough to make sure he takes his medication. 

Family members of disturbed persons will also have a stronger position in the new proposal. They can ask their municipality to submit an application for compulsory care to the prosecutor, anonymously if they prefer.

The SP's amendment has the support of the PvdA, GroenLinks, D66, PVV, ChristenUnie and PvdD. It therefore has a majority vote in parliament.