Section 4 of the Mental Health Act 6 of 2019 removes the fundamental right to legal capacity. It removes the legal personhood of persons with psychosocial disabilities.
Within the Mental Health Act, section 4 is used to violate the right to health of persons with mental and psychosocial disabilities, including by institutionalising substituted decision-making in healthcare decisions. Beyond the Mental Health Act, the legislature has started to use section 4 to deny persons with mental and psychosocial disabilities the right to exercise their legal capacity including in participating in constitutional and political reforms.
Section 4 violates the Constitution, the 2012 Persons with Disabilities Act and international and regional human rights law.
Section 4 of the Mental Health Act should be immediately repealed to prevent further harm and rights violations.
Once repealed, persons with disabilities should be consulted in good faith to assist in redrafting the provision to ensure full compliance with the Zambian Constitution and Persons with Disabilities Act, as interpreted by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.