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      Mission impossible: upholding successfully a charge of infanticide in the Albanian legal practice

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          Abstract

          Infanticide is a horrendous crime universally condemned from all ethical, juridical and moral standpoints. However, legislation on infanticide foresees mitigating circumstances for infanticidal mothers, with sentences by far disproportionate to the severity of the crime. The main justification for this abstaining from severe punishments has been the so-called post puerperal psychosis, whose diagnostic criteria and existence are still very confusing. Psychiatric experts and even jurors show excessive feelings of empathy toward defendant mothers, and fair verdicts under this setting and with this judicial tradition are questionable. Albanian courts have in some cases even denied defendant mothers the unwilling albeit necessary psychiatric treatment, thus exposing them to recidivism and to other social difficulties. Upholding the charge of infanticide in an Albanian court is hereby an impossible enterprise, with high chances for defendants to achieve acquittal on mental insanity grounds. Through describing three cases of infanticide and filicide in recent years of Albanian judicial proceedings, authors raise the concern formulated from other sources regarding the excessive empathy surrounding infanticidal mothers, a deleterious obstacle toward achieving justice.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Maternal infanticide associated with mental illness: prevention and the promise of saved lives.

           G Spinelli (2004)
          Although maternal infanticide is a rare event, a high proportion of cases occurs in the context of postpartum mental illness. The author reviews historical, legislative, and contemporary psychiatric perspectives on infanticide and discusses ways in which the psychiatric community can improve prevention of infanticide and promote appropriate treatment of mentally ill women who commit infanticide. The case of Texas v. Andrea Yates, involving a mother with mental illness who drowned her five children, is used to illustrate society's complicated reactions to infanticide in the context of postpartum mental illness. In the United States, the complexity of the response to infanticide is demonstrated by the judicial system's reaction to such cases. Whereas England's Infanticide Law provides probation and mandates psychiatric treatment for mothers with mental illness who commit infanticide, "killer mothers" may face the death penalty in the United States. Contemporary neuroscientific findings support the position that a woman with postpartum psychosis who commits infanticide needs treatment rather than punishment and that appropriate treatment will deter her from killing again. Psychiatrists have a vital role in recognizing the signs and symptoms of peripartum psychiatric disorders, particularly postpartum psychosis, and in early identification of and intervention with at-risk mothers. The absence of formal DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for postpartum psychiatric disorders promotes disparate treatment under the law. The psychiatric community should develop guidelines for the treatment of postpartum disorders, foster sharing of knowledge between psychiatry and the law, and do more to enlighten society about the effects of mental illness on thought and behavior so that decisions about the treatment and punishment of mentally ill persons will not be left exclusively in the hands of the judicial system.
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            Fatal child maltreatment in England, 2005-2009.

            This paper presents comprehensive and up-to-date data covering 4 years of Serious Case Reviews into fatal child maltreatment in England. Information on all notified cases of fatal maltreatment between April 2005 and March 2009 was examined to obtain case characteristics related to a systemic classification of 5 broad groups of maltreatment deaths (severe physical assaults; covert homicide/infanticide; overt homicide; extreme neglect/deprivational abuse; deaths related to but not directly caused by maltreatment). A total of 276 cases were recorded giving an incidence of 0.63 cases per 100,000 children (0-17) per year. 246 cases could be classified based on the data available. Of these the commonest specific group was those children who died as a result of severe physical assaults. Apparently deliberate overt and covert homicide was less common, while deaths as a direct consequence of neglect were rare. In contrast, some evidence of neglect was found in at least 40% of all cases, though not the direct cause of death. Class characteristics differ between the different categories of death and may suggest the need for different strategies for prevention. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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              The relation between child death and child maltreatment.

               R. A. Isaac,  C. Jenny (2006)
              The death of a child is a sentinel event in a community, and a defining marker of a society's policies of safety and health. Child death as a result of abuse and neglect is a tragic outcome that occurs in all nations of the world. The true incidence of fatal child abuse and neglect is unknown. The most accurate incidence data of such deaths have been obtained from countries where multi-agency death review teams analyse the causes of child fatalities, as is done in the United States and Australia.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Med Ethics Hist Med
                JMEHM
                Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine
                Tehran University of Medical Sciences
                2008-0387
                2014
                18 February 2014
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Criminal Law, Faculty of Law, University of Tirana, Tirana, Albania
                [2 ]Biomedical and Experimental Department, Faculty of Medicine, University of Medicine in Tirana, Tirana, Albania.
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Gentian Vyshka, Address: Lagja 1, Rr. Kostaq Cipo, Pall. 2/19, Tirana, Albania., Email: gvyshka@ 123456yahoo.com , Tel: +355 697566130
                Article
                jmehm-7-4
                4263390
                25512825
                © 2014 Gentian Vyshka et al.; licensee Tehran Univ. Med. Sci.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 3.0 License (CC BY-NC 3.0), which allows users to read, copy, distribute and make derivative works for non-commercial purposes from the material, as long as the author of the original work is cited properly.

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