Disability Rights are Human Rights
DRI helps Mexican activists fight human rights abuses
October 22nd, 2013 — Washington, DC – The New York Times today published an article profiling the Colectivo Chuhcan, Mexico’s first human rights advocacy organization led by persons with psychiatric disabilities. Disability Rights International (DRI) established the Colectivo in 2011 and helped the group spin off as an independent human rights organization.
Today’s New York Times article, Ex-Patients Police Mexico’s Mental Health System, reports that Colectivo members are pushing “to hold the mental health system in Mexico accountable for a record of neglect and abuse that is considered among the worst in the Americas.”
In 2010, DRI released Abandoned and Disappeared, a human rights report detailing the torture, trafficking, and cruel and inhuman treatment that is commonplace within Mexico’s decrepit psychiatric facilities. DRI has trained members of the Colectivo to continue human rights monitoring within Mexico’s hospitals. The sustained pressure has led to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto promising to reform the mental health system.
Support Families, Not Orphanages.
August 10th, 2013 — Washington, DC – The Washington Post on Saturday published an Op-Ed written by Disability Rights International’s (DRI) President Laurie Ahern calling for a paradigm shift in how the world acts to protect vulnerable children. Read the Op-Ed here.
Aid agencies, churches and governments spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build or renovate orphanages for children around the world, despite overwhelming evidence that orphanages are dangerous for children. In DRI’s work in dozens of countries over the past two decades, DRI has documented the impact of segregation in institutions, including cruelty and neglect. DRI has documented babies and children tied to cribs for years on end, and children with disabilities who are refused medical care and left to die.
Children and babies in orphanages are vulnerable to sex trafficking, organ harvesting and illegal adoptions. Even in clean and well-staffed orphanages, children suffer lifelong psychological damage.
Up to 95% of children in orphanages around the world have living parents. Poverty, disability and social exclusion are what push most children into orphanages.
“It is a tragedy on a massive scale, and it demands a response,” writes Ahern in the Post, “Rather than throwing money at orphanages, groups can and should do the more-complicated work of helping to find ways to keep children with their families.”
Through the Worldwide Campaign to End the Institutionalization of Children, DRI is working to establish a worldwide consensus that institutionalization of children can and should be brought to an end.
Please watch and share DRI’s 30-second PSA video, and consider making a donation to support DRI’s advocacy to protect children suffering today and to stop the next generation of children from ever being locked away and forgotten.
Read Ahern’s Op-Ed in the Post here.
Disability Rights International opens Kiev, Ukraine advocacy office
July 24, 2013–Kyiv, Ukraine– Disability Rights International (DRI) is proud to announce the creation of its newest advocacy office in Kyiv, Ukraine. DRI also has regional offices in the Balkans, based in Serbia, and the Americas, based in Mexico City. DRI-Ukraine is affiliated with DRI but is locally-controlled by Ukrainian advocacy leaders.
DRI’s presence in the country will help ensure that Ukraine adheres to its promise to fully integrate children and adults with disabilities into the community as required by article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
DRI Submits amicus brief to Mexican Supreme Court in a landmark case for disability rights
Mexico City, Mexico- July 16, 2013 – Disability Rights International (DRI) and partners in Mexico presented an amicus brief last week to the Mexican Supreme Court in the case of Ricardo Adair, a 24-year old Mexican youth with Asperger Syndrome. Ricardo has lived under the legal guardianship of his parents since 2007, when a judicial review decided he was unable to make decisions on his own. As a result, Ricardo is now unable to make fundamental choices about his own life.
DRI’s work on this case was handled by our Mexico City office, which manages our work throughout the Americas. We worked closely with the Mexico City Human Rights Commission and other human rights organizations to submit this amicus curiae brief before the Mexican Supreme Court. We asked the Court to take into account international standards to protect the right to legal capacity of persons with disabilities as established by article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). DRI, which took the lead in the analysis of international law in this case, finds that the Mexican legislation governing guardianship is clearly not compatible with new legal standards under the UN CRPD.
It is the first time the Supreme Court has heard this type of case, which may set a new precedent in advancing the right of persons with disabilities to maintain their legal capacity.
DRI and our partners presented the amicus at a press conference in Mexico City last Tuesday, July 9th. The press conference received extensive media coverage in Mexico. CNN Mexico aired an in-depth story about the press conference and case. Click here to watch the CNN coverage (in Spanish).
DRI Americas Director profiled by Notre Dame Magazine for path-breaking work in Guatemala
Guatemala City, Guatemala – July 16, 2013 - The director of DRI’s Americas Office, attorney Sofía Galván, was profiled by her alma mater in the Notre Dame Magazine for her successful petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect people detained in Guatemala’s psychiatric facility. A reporter for the magazine accompanied Sofía and another Notre Dame alumna working for the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala City (ODHAG) into the country’s most decrepit and dangerous institution for persons with disabilities, the Frederico Mora hospital.
“Most unsettling is the pervasive sense of disorder, with patients wandering aimlessly, barefoot and in ragged clothes, sleeping on benches and on the bare concrete. There are broken toilets and no heat or hot water. There is no budget for shoes or soap. One orderly tells me, ‘Nos falta todos.’ We lack everything.”
-Notre Dame Magazine
DRI and ODHAG recently won a favorable ruling on a “precautionary measures” petition filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of more than 300 children and adults at Federico Mora Hospital who are subjected to life-threatening abuses. The case documented extensive physical and sexual abuse as well as trafficking of women with disabilities at the facility.
The Inter-American Commission called on the Guatemalan government to take “[i]mmediate preventive measures aimed at protecting all patients, particularly women and children, from physical, psychological and sexual violence by other inmates, guards and hospital staff.” DRI continues to work with the government of Guatemala to push for full implementation of the Commission’s ruling.
Read the full Notre Dame Magazine article, called Dignity for Forgotten Souls, here.
DRI Ambassador Holly Valance Promotes Worldwide Campaign to End Institutionalization of Children
London – June 26, 2013 – Disability Rights International Ambassador and UK actress Holly Valance, along with her husband Nick Candy and Camilla and Celestine Clauson, also patrons of DRI, accompanied DRI on a recent trip to Eastern Europe to visit institutions and promote the Worldwide Campaign to End the Institutionalization of Children.
As a result of the trip, they hosted the inaugural “Summer in the City,” awareness-raising and fundraising event last week in London at One Hyde Park. Click here to watch the video produced for the event.
HELLO! Magazine covered the event and interviewed Holly about her work with DRI and passion for protecting the human rights of children with disabilities.
“When I see these kids, it feels as if an elephant is sitting on my chest,” said Holly in the interview. “If these were prisons, there would be outrage. Yet these innocent children and adults aren’t granted the same human rights…this is happening under our noses in the 21st century.”
Read the HELLO! interview here.
DRI Perspective, “Segregation and Abuse in Institutions,” published in 2013 UNICEF Report
“The detention of children in institutions is a fundamental human rights violation. We can bring it to an end, on a worldwide scale, through a moratorium on new placements.” -DRI Perspective in 2013 UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report