Disability Rights International to Testify on Torture in Mexico

Washington, DC – March 20, 2012 – Disability Rights International (DRI) and a coalition of partners from Mexico will testify before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) at a public hearing this Friday.  DRI’s findings in Mexico are “deeply disturbing” said DRI Executive Director Eric Rosenthal, J.D., “and the Mexican government must be pressured to protect its most vulnerable citizens – those locked away for a lifetime because they have a disability – living in orphanages, psychiatric institutions and other social care facilities.”

At the hearing, DRI will call on the IACHR to visit Mexico to witness the atrocious human rights violations taking place in Mexican institutions.  As documented by DRI, thousands of children and adults are left to languish in near total inactivity, some naked and without access to the most basic hygiene.   Without any oversight, children have literally disappeared from Mexican institutions; in some cases, girls detained in institutions were trafficked for sex; DRI found young adults are held in institutions entirely off the public record, working without compensation – essentially as slave labor. DRI investigators found people tied to beds and wheelchairs – in some cases, for ten years.  “The United Nations has stated that the prolonged use of restraints constitutes nothing less than torture.  

We found widespread torture in Mexico’s institutions,” said Rosenthal. “We have travelled to Washington, DC to send a loud message to the Mexican government: do not lock up people because they have a disability,” said Raul Montoya, Executive Director of the Colectivo Chuhcan, a Mexican organization of people with psychiatric disabilities. DRI filed the petition before the IACHR - a branch of the Organization of American States (OAS), along with Mexican partners: the Colectivo Chuhcan, the Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH), Documenta, and the Instituto Mexicano de Derechos Humanos y Democracia (IMDHD).   The government of Mexico will also testify. The hearing will be held Friday, March 23, from 9-10am, at the OAS, 1889 F Street, NW, Padilha Vidal Room, Washington, DC and is open to the public. Webcast is available at www.oas.org/es/cidh.

The findings of our investigation were published in 2011 by DRI and CMDPDH as Abandoned & Disappeared: Mexico’s Segregation and Abuse of Children and Adults with Disabilities.