The Prosecutor General’s Office advocated the transfer of data on the mentally ill to the Ministry of Internal Affairs
The General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia made a proposal to transfer to the Ministry of Internal Affairs the data of people who seek help from a psychiatrist. The prosecutor’s office considers this a safety measure and suggests involving patients’ relatives and neighbors in informing them. Doctors and lawyers point out that such a measure contradicts the legislation. They also believe that if such a decision is made, patients will turn to the doctor less often.
Irina Rebrina, an employee of the Prosecutor General’s Office, made a proposal to establish control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs over people suffering from mental illnesses in the State Duma on Friday. She said that psychiatric patients should be “supervised so that, God forbid, they do not harm our children.”
The transfer of medical information to third parties without the patient’s permission and without a court decision is a violation of medical confidentiality and is punishable in Russia. “Agentstvo.Novosti” received comments from doctors and lawyers in the field of psychiatry and patients’ rights.
Head of the Department of Medical and General Psychology of the Kazan Medical University, Dr. Vladimir Mendelevich reported that only 2.4 percent of all crimes in Russia are committed by mentally ill people. In his opinion, such a decision will increase the stigmatization of mental illnesses. As a result, people with mental illnesses may stop going to see doctors, which is why doctors will not be able to control their condition. Thus, says Mendelevych, from the point of view of crime control, “the Ministry of Internal Affairs will only make things worse.”
Clinical psychologist and human rights activist Maria Sysnyova also confirmed that the majority of crimes are committed by mentally healthy people. She emphasized that patients who have already committed socially dangerous acts because of their disease are on active dispensary registration with a psychiatrist and their data is already known to the police.
Lawyer Nikifor Ivanov, representing the international human rights group “Agora”, believes that such a measure can contribute to the persecution of opponents of the authorities. “The temptation to declare dissidents ‘crazy’ is very high,” he said. The lawyer of the “Public Verdict” fund, Irina Biryukova, agreed with him. “This is the first step towards increasing and expanding the circle of persons to whom it is possible to apply the so-called punitive psychiatry. Did your neighbor suddenly think that you are abnormal?” – she thinks.