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230 sign petition for investigation into Farrell’s detention

230 sign petition for investigation into Farrell’s detention

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Two hundred and thirty people have signed a statement calling on the local authorities to launch an investigation into the detention of Yugge Farrell at the Mental Health Centre.

The statement, which also calls for the amendment of the Mental Health Act, is signed by representatives of 34 organizations including the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (Trinidad & Tobago and The Bahamas); Foundation Women’s Rights Center, Suriname; International Women’s Resource Network, Trinidad & Tobago; Leave out Violence in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the National Organization of Women, Barbados.

Among the many well-known social activists from the region, North America and Europe who signed the statement, was Peggy Antrobus of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We, the undersigned, condemn in the strongest possible terms, the persecution and mistreatment of Ms Yugge Farrell by the legal, medical, and political authorities of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We are in full solidarity with Ms Farrell and those Vincentians who stand with her,” the statement said.

The statement said “the mistreatment” of Farrell, 23, “raises several serious concerns about the probable abuse of the existing Mental Health Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We ask – is commitment to a mental institution for use of insulting language a regular occurrence in SVG? We join the SVG Human Rights Association (HRA) in questioning the validity of the observation report and treatment administered to Ms Farrell.

“We note the alleged romantic relationship that Ms Farrell has publicly claimed with Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and caution those who rush to dismiss this incident as simply a matter of ‘love gone bad’ to reflect on the fact that state entities can easily use the excuse of mental instability to vilify, discredit, and institutionalize any critic or person(s) deemed a threat or embarrassment to the established political order.

“As human rights defenders, feminists, and persons who care about well-being and justice in the Caribbean and beyond, we condemn the actions of the judicial and medical authorities of St Vincent and the Grenadines and their violation of the rights of Ms Yugge Farrell. We deplore the misuse of mental health policies to oppress individuals and advance goals other than the safeguarding of wellness.

“Now that Ms Farrell’s detention in the Mental Health Centre has ended, we support calls for an investigation into the decision to detain and medicate her. We support her family members and demand independent medical and psychiatric care for her. We stand with the St Vincent Human Rights Association who urge an immediate review and modification of the existing Mental Health Act so that it becomes compliant with international norms and standards to prevent abuses and protect human rights.

“Finally, we remind the Government and authorities of St Vincent and the Grenadines of their commitment to ensure their citizens’ right to free speech and protection from state persecution. The eyes of the world are watching you.

“There must be no more violations of the rights of Yugge Farrell or any other Vincentian. Amend the Mental Health Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines now,” the statement said.

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