Int’l conference on forensic psychiatry begins at UHS

Muzaffar Ali

Lahore—Pakistan’s first international conference on forensic psychiatry began here at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Friday. The theme of the 2-day conference, which is being organized in collaboration with Higher Education Commission (HEC), is “Healing the Held”, and it aims at enhancing awareness about forensic issues prevalent within mentally ill and disordered offenders and the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of such persons. Besides healthcare professionals and forensic experts, a large number of jurists, lawyers, staff of prisons and law enforcing agencies, and human right activists are participating in the conference. The conference will be formally inaugurated on Saturday.
Senior judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will be the chief guest. On Friday, five workshops were organized as a part of the conference: Workshop on “Setting up a forensic psychiatry faculty in Pakistan” was facilitated by Prof Anthony Beech, Professor of Criminal Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK; “Research methodology in studies of violence and mental disorder” by Dr SobiaTamim Khan, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, St. Andrew’s Healthcare, Birmingham; “Risk assessment formulation and treatment of forensic psychiatric patients” by Dr Dawn Fisher, Consultant Forensic Psychologist, UK; “Forensic psychiatry as portrayed in the movies” by Prof Fawad Kaiser, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, The Huntercombe Group, UK, and workshop on “Online child abuse and exploitation” was facilitated by Dr Ethel Quayle, Senior Lecture in Clinical Psychology, University of Edinburgh, UK.
In this regard, the chief organizer of the conference, Prof Dr Mowadat Hussain Rana said that the moot would create awareness about forensic psychiatry in Pakistan.
“We want to launch a postgraduate diploma or master degree programme for the first time in the country and this conference will help developing a faculty for that programme”, he added. He further said that the conference would focus on why some people committed violent crimes, terrorism, prevention of sexual offences and rehabilitation of victims, internet offences and crimes against children.
Dr Rana expounded that as an important sub-specialty of psychiatry, Forensic psychiatry dealt with the assessment and provision of scientific and evidence based mental health care of the offenders. It has an overlap with criminology, law, legislation, justice system, jail services, and general health care.
He added that the main aim of forensic psychiatrists was to assist the court of law in making objective and fair judgements in cases with mental health connotations and overlaps. He stressed the need of active involvement of social, electronic and print media in identification of mental health needs of offenders and promoting the early development of forensic psychiatry services in Pakistan. Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist from UK, Prof Fawad Kaiser said that forensic psychiatry sat at the interface with law and dealt with criminal matters, prisons and courts.

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