Abstract: In this paper, the focus is to explore to what extent Human Rights instruments may protect patients in psychiatric hospitals against involuntary detention, forced medication and other use of forced treatment and handling by the staff members. The binding HR-conventions to protect civil and political rights seem to open for the use of a wide range of forced interventions as long as they may be justified by “therapeutic necessity”. The soft-law instruments specifically assigned for protection of the dignity and autonomy of psychiatric patients seem to be of little effect in practice.

Key words: Civil commitment, involuntary treatment, forced medication, detention, psychiatric treatment