Washington, DC, Guatemala City – September 2, 2016 – The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee) has issued its Concluding Observations to the State of Guatemala. Based on Disability Rights International’s (DRI) reporting, the CRPD Committee has urged Guatemala to abolish the institutionalization of all children in the country. Also, notably, for the first time a UN Committee has recognized that the growing tendency of “voluntourism” -where a person pays to volunteer in places like orphanages- is perpetuating the dangerous practice of institutionalization in the country.
Last month, DRI participated at Guatemala’s evaluation by the CRPD Committee, which assessed the steps the country has taken to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Based on this evaluation and on information submitted by DRI and other civil society organizations, the Committee issued its Concluding Observations to the State.
During the evaluation, DRI reported that thousands of children are detained in institutions which are funded by the State, international cooperation agencies, as well as through a growing tendency of “voluntourism” in the country. The Committee recommended the State Party to ensure that international aid is used in accordance with the Convention and urged the State to define a deinstitutionalization policy for the country.
DRI also submitted an alternative report on the grave human rights violations, including permanent segregation, systematic sexual abuse and torture, against persons with disabilities detained at the National Mental Health Hospital “Federico Mora” -which the BBC named as “the most dangerous hospital in the world.” In 2012 DRI obtained a precautionary measures order -a request to the State to take urgent measures- from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to protect the life and personal integrity of the persons detained at the Federico Mora. The CRPD Committee has also urged the State of Guatemala to fully implement the IACHR’s precautionary measures.
DRI congratulates the CRPD Committee on the adoption of such groundbreaking recommendations. DRI will build on these recommendations to continue advocating for an end to institutions and for Guatemala to fully guarantee the rights of children and adults with disabilities to live in the community with equal opportunities to others, as recognized by the CRPD.