Start Submission Become a Reviewer

Reading: Criminal responsibility in Sri Lanka: a descriptive study of forensic psychiatric assessment...

Download

A- A+
dyslexia friendly

Brief Reports

Criminal responsibility in Sri Lanka: a descriptive study of forensic psychiatric assessments in remand prisoners charged with murder and related crimes

Authors:

Neil Fernando,

Consultant Psychiatrist, National Institute of Mental Health, Angoda, LK
X close

Angelo De Alwis ,

Senior Registrar in Forensic Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health, Angoda
X close

Wajantha Kotalawala

Registrar in Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health, Angoda, LK
X close

Abstract

Background Persons of 'unsound mind' are absolved of responsibility for criminal acts under provisions of the penal code of Sri Lanka. However, being diagnosed with a mental illness does not automatically absolve persons from criminal responsibility. There is no published data about criminal responsibility among offenders with mental illness in Sri Lanka

Aims The study aims to determine the proportion of patients who were deemed to be of unsound mind among those admitted for psychiatric assessment to the forensic psychiatry unit of a tertiary care centre for mental health.

Methods A retrospective study was carried out on patients who were charged with murder, culpable homicide or for being an accomplice to murder and were admitted to the tertiary care center for a forensic psychiatric assessment over a period of one year. Data was collected from court reports and clinical records.

Results Forty two persons were assessed (38 males, 4 females) during this period. Among them, 37 (88%) were diagnosed as having a mental illness. The commonest diagnosis was schizophrenia, seen in 23 (62.1%) patients. Of the 37 patients diagnosed with a mental illness, 13 (35.1%) were deemed to have had ‘unsound mind’ at the time of the alleged offence. Twelve patients (32.4%) diagnosed with mental illness were found to have a ‘sound mind’. In 13 (30.9%) patients, the mental state at the time of the alleged crime could not be determined due to the lack of information.

Conclusions Forensic psychiatric assessments lead to a significant number of mentally ill offenders to being declared as being of ‘unsound mind’ due to mental illness. A delay in the assessment limits the ability of the psychiatrist to provide an opinion on criminal responsibility.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v3i1.4456

SL J Psychiatry 2012; 3 (1):28-29

DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v3i1.4456
How to Cite: Fernando, N., De Alwis, A. & Kotalawala, W., (2012). Criminal responsibility in Sri Lanka: a descriptive study of forensic psychiatric assessments in remand prisoners charged with murder and related crimes. Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry. 3(1), pp.28–29. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v3i1.4456
577
Views
1055
Downloads
Published on 29 Jun 2012.
Peer Reviewed

Downloads

  • PDF (EN)

    comments powered by Disqus