Washington, DC – September 8, 2017 – After years of monitoring conditions, advocacy, and negotiations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has called on the government of Guatemala to take major steps toward the closure of its psychiatric hospital Federico Mora, called one of the most dangerous in the world by the BBC.
During a series of meetings with Disability Rights International (DRI) and the Guatemalan government, held this week in Mexico City, the IACHR has called on Guatemala to
- stop any new admissions to Federico Mora by January 201
- appoint a special judge to review all current and future detainee cases and assist them to be released into the community
- provide financial support for housing, medical care, and appropriate supports so that current detainees can live in the community with their families or independently
DRI has found Federico Mora to be one of the most violence and dangerous facilities anywhere in the world. Staff and detainees have reported that rape, violence, and other forms of abuse are routine within the facility. DRI first investigated the facility after receiving reports that detainees were trafficked into a nearby prison for sex and subject to exploitation by visitors and staff. In collaboration with Guatemala’s lead disability rights group, the Colectivo de Vida Independiente, DRI filed a collective complaint to represent the hundreds of people with disabilities detained at Federico Mora and seek their release and reintegration into the community. As this case is pending, the Commission considers the abuses so serious that it ordered immediate action to protect the rights of people detained at the hospital.
“Confining human beings in such conditions is a violation of international law and basic human rights. This agreement sends a strong message to governments that such abuse should never be tolerated,” said Eric Rosenthal, DRI’s Executive Director. “It is historic that the Inter-American Commission recognizes the right to be part of society. It is not enough to fix up institutions. This is the first time this Commission is calling for community integration. The era of locking people way because of their disabilities is coming to an end. DRI is committed to ending these abuses wherever they are found.”