In Balkan countries, as in all Europe, forensic psychiatry as a subspecialty between psychiatry and legal medicine, an interface between mental health and the law, is focused on assessment and treatment of people with mental disorder who show antisocial or violent behavior. Thus, the authors thought that to show the actual situation of forensic psychiatry in their countries would be more interesting than only to review some articles published in these last 2 years in this part of the world.
The article also includes some review about forensic psychiatry in prison in Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia and about a recent book published in Bulgaria.
After a brief history of forensic psychiatry in some Balkan countries, the authors describe the services, the high and medium secure units found in forensic hospitals or in general psychiatry hospitals, which are still limited, where mentally disordered offenders are treated.
Because of our society's values, individual freedom and civil liberties, questions about the right to treatment (or the right to refuse treatment), involuntary hospitalization, and other legal and ethical issues have no easy answers. Ethical questions remain in dispute, like patient's needs vs. social needs and human rights, legality vs. morality.
The quality standards must be improved, especially those concerning elementary care needs and quality of life of forensic psychiatry patients (accommodation, food, sheltered housing, sheltered work places and community involvement).
Ways will be found to protect human rights and avoid any abuse of psychiatry.
Correspondence to Dr Nicoleta Tătaru, Senior consultant psychiatrist, Forensic Psychiatry Hospital Ştei, România, President of Romanian Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, 36, Cuza Voda Street, Oradea 410101, România Tel: +40 745 598866; fax: +40 259 332354; e-mail: email@example.com