REPATRIATE VULNERABLE BRITISH NATIONAL TERRY BUTLER CAUGHT IN LEGAL LIMBO IN INDIA.
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Appeal: That British National Terry Juanita Butler who has severe mental health issues be released from detention in India and be allowed to return to the UK for appropriate medical treatment, urgently required. Terry needs to be given access to full medical and psychiatric treatment, which can only be provided where she can understand, and be understood, in her first language.
Summary of Terry’s Case:
Terry Juanita Butler was legally visiting India when her mental health declined in October/ November 2014. From November she was homeless and living on the verandah of the local police station. She was arrested on 28/01/2015 under Sec. 14 Foreigners Act 1946 for overstay of Indian Visa and detained but not charged. The overstay of visa constitutes a civil rather than criminal offense in Bihar, India.
Due to her inability to appear and represent herself in court there have been 20 court hearings. During the 6 months in Gaya jail Terry received only a bare minimum of treatment with little effect to her condition.
Terry has been held in detention for 7 months for allegedly overstay of visa but has not been formally charged; several medical and psychiatric assessments have been made and declared her as ‘not fit to stand trial’; this is also the opinion of her court-appointed lawyer and the FCO officer attending her case in London.
Following representation (by next of kin who travelled from overseas) and medical assessment she was removed from Gaya on July 17, 2015 and admitted to Ranchi Medical Facility due to her severe mental state. However, she remains in detention.
Since her detention, Terry was assessed on several occasions as unable to take care of herself or to make or communicate decisions. All psychiatrists including the treating psychiatrists of Ranchi Medical facility, have unanimously concluded that she is not fit to stand trial. In addition, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated in their correspondence, dated 29th of June 2015, that Terry Juanita Butler "lacks capacity to decide, which is making her unfit to stand trial". They also reported that Terry's appointed lawyer is of the opinion that she is unfit to stand trial.
Further, in their letter of 29 June the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is concerned that Terry is at risk of being left in an indeterminate legal state. As she is not fit to stand trial, the case does not progress.
The FCO have stated that:
Immigration detention rules mean that normally a deportation can take place once a prisoner who is convicted & sentenced comes to an end of the sentence. Hence the need to move the legal case forward is vital at this point of time for any such decision. (In this case, Terry has not even been charged.)
If an individual who is in judicial custody wants to return to the UK for medical treatment this would only be possible if the court who directed their imprisonment passed an order to that effect. To obtain such an order that individual would need to seek such an order through the lawyer. (At this point in time, the magistrate is simply asking for further medical reports and for Terry to appear in the court.)
The United Nations Convention for Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was adopted by India in 2006, and ratified in 2008, which means that mental illness legally became a human rights issue rather than an issue of social welfare. [refer: Indian legal system and mental health Narayan & Shika 2013 @ www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › NCBI › Literature › PubMed Central (PMC) ].
At the time Terry overstayed her visa she was mentally unwell and homeless. She was lacking in the competence and means to fulfill the law. To our knowledge she had no documents or monies and was in mental distress. We hold therefore that Terry’s case ought to be dealt with as a Human Rights issue, any charges dismissed and provision made for her repatriation to UK for appropriate treatment.
We request that her case be dismissed on grounds of Terry’s lack of competence at the time of the offense and in view of her continuing mental distress. In this way, the United Nations Convention for Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be upheld.
(Upon closing, to our knowledge there are currently at least 2 other foreign women in this region of India in custody and who are in a similar predicament to Terry.)
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