February 27th, 2014 – Washington, DC – A delegation of DRI staff and experts is in Guatemala this week to negotiate with the government on the implementation of an Accord to protect the rights of people with disabilities detained in the Federico Mora psychiatric hospital in Guatemala City. “The government of Guatemala made an historic agreement to protect rights and provide for the community integration of children and adults in the country’s mental health system,” said Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director of Disability Rights International (DRI). “Now is the time for Guatemala to fulfill its obligations under the American Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Accord provides a valuable framework for collaboration with international experts. It demonstrates that people with disabilities can live in the community with full protection of their rights.”
The Accord describes detailed steps that Guatemala will take to protect the rights of people with disabilities detained in the Federico Mora psychiatric hospital in Guatemala City under a precautionary measures order (MC-370-12) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. While respecting labor rights of the staff at the hospital, Guatemala agrees in the Accord to create a system of community-based mental health services within two years and to bring about “a significant reduction” of detainees at the institution. In addition to creating group homes for adults, the government agrees to establish new family-based supports for children with disabilities. The government promises not to allow any new admissions of children.
The Accord was signed by the President of Guatemala’s Presidential Commission for Human Rights, Antonio Arenales, representing the government in Guatemala, on October 30, 2013. At a working meeting of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on October 31, 2013, the delegation from Guatemala described these activities as steps it would be taking to fulfill its obligations under the precautionary measures order. The Accord is subject only to the final approval of the Attorney General.