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Testing Equality: Insanity, Treatment Refusal and the CRPD

Wondemaghen, Meron



The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is considered to be a radical international treaty that affords persons with disability recognition and protection of equal rights in socio-cultural, political, medical and legal arenas. Drawing from the Convention's core principles of equality and non-discrimination, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Convention's Committee have called for a replacement of the insanity defence with a disability-neutral doctrine. The rationale is that retaining this special defence is, in itself, discriminatory, given its function is necessarily based on the presence of mental disability and the assumption that such disabilities impair capacity and reasoning. This article interrogates the rationale behind ‘abolitionist’ views, and asks whether equality necessarily means treating all persons identically regardless of capacity to reason about conduct.


Wondemaghen, M. (2018). Testing Equality: Insanity, Treatment Refusal and the CRPD. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 25(2), 174-185.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 1, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Publication Date Mar 4, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 2, 2022
Journal Psychiatry, Psychology and Law
Print ISSN 1321-8719
Electronic ISSN 1934-1687
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 2
Pages 174-185
Public URL