Disability and mental health law reform in Taiwan
Doughty Street Chambers' Oliver Lewis has returned from a week-long trip to Taiwan, in an ongoing effort to support the government and civil society to progress disability and mental health law.
The trip was a follow-up from work Oliver undertook in August 2022 as a member of the 'International Review Committee', which assessed the country's implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). During his recent trip, Oliver met with Mr Wan-i Lin, Minister without Portfolio of the Executive Yuan, who is responsible for coordinating implementation of the CRPD across government.
With representatives from the human rights NGO Covenants Watch, Oliver visited the Jainan psychiatric hospital in the south of the country, where he was taken on a tour and where he spoke to psychiatrists and other staff about Taiwan's mental health law, and recent amendments that introduce a tribunal system which come into effect in 2025. The tribunal will mean changes to psychiatric practice, and Oliver strategized with mental health staff about how to overcome the challenges that they perceived.
Oliver was invited to a workshop for lawyers to discuss how to integrate CRPD arguments into legal submissions. The workshop participants included representatives of the Taiwan Bar Association, the Legal Aid Foundation and the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty.
At a half-day event for judges at the Judges Academy co-organised by the Judicial Yuan (the judicial branch of government that oversees the courts), Oliver spoke about access to justice for persons with disabilities, drawing on the CRPD, the International Principles and Guidelines on Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities and the UK Judicial College's Equal Treatment Bench Book. He also gave a presentation about steps needed to create the new mental health tribunal, drawing on examples from England and Wales.
Oliver gave two guest lectures at universities. At the National Taipei University, he presented on sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities. At the Institute for Public Health of the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, Oliver gave lectured on litigation to advance the right to health.
Finally, Oliver participated in a workshop with disability rights NGOs. They discussed the difficulties in accessing people in mental health units, how to reconcile the CRPD Committee's approach to abolishing mental health laws with the recent statutory amendments in Taiwan, and how to develop a multi-sectoral acceptance of legal safeguards in mental health detention and forced treatment.
For further information
Having participated in its development and having worked in all continents on its implementation, Oliver's international work focuses on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He regularly provides advice and representation to UN agencies, governments and NGOs. For more information, contact our International Team Practice Manager Naomi Smith.