My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
The privilege against self-incrimination is not the only privilege witnesses before a commission are entitled to. There may be others. The test is whether such a privilege would have applied to a witness in a criminal trial, for it to be covered by section 3(4) of the Commissions Act. However, it lies with a witness before a commission to claim privilege against self-incrimination. In the event of doing so, the witness must raise the question of privilege with the Chairperson of the Commission and must demonstrate how an answer to the question in issue would breach the privilege. If the Chairperson is persuaded, he or she may permit the witness not to answer the question. Privilege against self incrimination is not there for the taking by witnesses. There must be sufficient grounds that in answering a question, the witness will incriminate himself or herself in the commission of a specified crime.BACK TO TOP