Assessment on Offenders with Mental Health Problems at Lideta First Instance Court in Addis Ababa

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Addis Ababa University


The study assessed court process on offenders with mental` health problems at Lideta First Instance Court in Addis Ababa. Qualitative research design and methods were employed to generate study participants‘ experiences at the Court. Qualitative data were collected from six case informants and 11 key informants using appropriate tools. To ensure the quality of the data, Data triangulation implemented and then collected them from different sources. To analyze qualitative data, phenomenological theme analysis and content analysis employed. Findings indicate the participants aware objectives of establishing the Court; there was screening, but no standardized practices of follow-up, supervision, and monitoring and evaluation; and the doctor engaged in psychoanalysis techniques supported by prosecutors and their families, but without social workers, sociologists, and psychiatrists‘ professional interventions in actual practice of handling offenders with mental problems. Opportunities created due to the MHC include: reducing time elapsed for trial of the cases, creating context for close consultation and easy exchange of information about the offenders‘ previous histories related to their mental health conditions by their families and the medical doctor, promoting ad sharing knowledge and skills related to handling cases on mental illness, and there were instances of establishing networks and partnerships between the Court and the relevant agencies in Addis Ababa. There were also inter-dependent gaps in the practice, including practice was not performed based on grassroots approach in that there were no required and relevant professionals as team members in the MHC; knowledge gaps in MHC principles and approach in the specialized Court; no triangulation of evidence on mental health status of the offenders diagnosed by the medical doctor; a violation of the offenders‘ rights; no established rehabilitation centre where the offender with mental problem would stay before and after Court‘s decisions; no well-coordinated and organized professional interventions provided; and no awareness creation of the problems among members of society. Consequently, there was no practice of registering insane persons at Ethiopian lowest administrative unit. Evidence further documented challenges like usage of improper words to express one‘s offence, being silent for longer time or throughout the interrogation session, being reluctant to go to the Court, and causing injuries to other criminals in the prison. In conclusion, actual practice at the Court is not comprehensive and lacks globally accepted standards for its establishment, creates certain limited opportunities for the offenders with mental illness, their families, and team members who participate in the process. Thus, all these have implications for social work practice at different levels in Ethiopian. Concomitantly, exploratory further studies using mixed methods in various Ethiopian contexts should be undertaken. Key words: Mental health, practice, challenge, Addis Ababa, offenders



Mental health, practice, challenge, Addis Ababa, offenders