In a groundbreaking event held at Kabarak University Auditorium, the Kabarak University School of Law and Kabarak University Press, in collaboration with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Validity Foundation, launched three crucial publications focused on mental health rights and the criminal justice system. This significant initiative aims to shed light on the challenges faced by individuals with mental health issues within the legal framework, advocate for their rights, and pave the way for a more inclusive and just society.
The first publication, titled "Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System," is a comprehensive book published by Kabarak University Press. It delves into the evolution, place, and impact of criminal justice laws on persons with disabilities, specifically those with mental health conditions. By analyzing the intersection of mental health and the criminal justice system, this book provides valuable insights into the challenges faced by individuals with mental health conditions and proposes strategies for reform.
The second publication, a report titled "Mapping of Organizations of and for Persons with Psychosocial and Intellectual Disabilities," is authored by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. This report is the result of an extensive mapping exercise conducted by the Commission. Its primary objective is to establish a strong advocacy platform for the implementation of the Concluding Observations and forthcoming review by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. By identifying and mapping organizations working on behalf of individuals with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, this report aims to foster collaboration and promote the rights of this marginalized group.
The third publication, also by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, is titled "Still Silenced: A Quality Rights Assessment of Selected Mental Health Facilities in Kenya." This report provides a critical assessment of the current status of mental health care units in Kenya. It highlights areas that require improvement and recommends appropriate redress measures to address the identified shortcomings. Furthermore, the report identifies key duty bearers responsible for ensuring the rights of individuals with mental health conditions and documents progressive practices observed in mental health institutions.
The launch event was graced by esteemed speakers from all collaborating institutions. Honorable Lady Justice Grace Ngenye, as the chief guest, emphasized the importance of protecting the rights of individuals with mental health conditions within the criminal justice system. Her presentation highlighted the commitment of the judiciary to address the challenges faced by this vulnerable population.
Dr. Harun M. Hassan, the Executive Director of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, shared valuable insights into the efforts being made to promote inclusivity and accessibility for individuals with mental health conditions. His perspective shed light on the measures being taken at the national level to improve their overall well-being.
Mr. William Aseka, the Africa Advocacy Manager of the Validity Foundation, emphasized the need for collaboration between organizations and institutions to ensure the effective implementation of mental health rights. He discussed the Foundation's commitment to promoting legal reforms and advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities, including those with mental health conditions.
Dr. Bernard Mogesa, the Commission Secretary of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, provided an overview of the publications and their significance in addressing the gaps within the mental health care system. He stressed the importance of collective action in driving positive change and fostering an environment that respects and protects the rights of individuals with mental health conditions.
The launch also featured panel discussions with researchers and chapter contributors from the book and reports. These discussions provided an opportunity for experts in the field to engage in meaningful conversations, exchange ideas, and explore potential avenues for future research and collaboration.
The launch of these mental health publications represents a significant milestone in raising awareness about the rights of individuals with mental health conditions and their interactions with the criminal justice system. By providing comprehensive insights, recommendations, and progressive practices, these publications offer a valuable resource for policymakers, researchers, practitioners, and advocates working towards a more inclusive and just society for all. It is hoped that the launch event will spark further dialogue, inspire action, and ultimately contribute to positive changes in mental health legislation and practices, not only in Kenya but also on a global scale.