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Abstract from

Community Treatment Orders and Human Rights

John Dawson is Professor of Law at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

This article discusses the widespread use of community treatment orders (CTOs) in Australasia, in light of international trends towards the constitutionalisation of human rights. It argues that, in the absence of entrenched human rights instruments governing their law-making powers, Australasian legislatures have considerable freedom in the design of CTO regimes, and they have used that freedom to enact reasonably enforceable regimes. These have attracted the confidence of clinicians and are therefore widely used, compared with less enforceable regimes operating in many other parts of the world. This reveals a major dilemma concerning CTOs: that, in order to attract the confidence of clinicians, and be a useful element in the delivery of mental health care, they may have to operate at the boundaries of human rights concern.

(2008) 26 No 2 Law in Context 148

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