DRI and activists from the Americas to testify March 25, 2014 before Inter-American Commission of the OAS on abuses of people with disabilities throughout the Americas

“Millions of children and adults with disabilities are locked up and detained in institutions without any ability to go to court.  If they are raped, tortured, subject to physical abuse, or even trafficked for sex, they cannot take legal action to protect their rights if they are placed under guardianship. Under the legal systems that exist throughout the Americas, being placed under guardianship is known as ‘legal death,’” said Humberto Guerrero, Director of the Americas office of Disability Rights International (DRI-Mexico). 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will hear testimony by Disability Rights International and counterparts from Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, Costa Rica, and Peru exposing the atrocious human rights violations that take place when people with disabilities are stripped of their rights through denial of “legal capacity.” 

I was first detained in psychiatric hospital when I was 18.  I did not want to be there and tried to escape, so they detained me again forcefully. I was administered more than 11 medications that made me feel like a zombie.  But they never asked me whether I wanted to be medicated at all. Then they tied me down with locks that were very painful. It was terrifying.  For months after that, I could not shake off the feeling of being tied down.  –  Natalia Santos,President of the Colectivo Chuhcan, Mexico’s first human rights advocacy organization run by people with psychosocial disabilities.  Read Natalia’s testimony in Spanish and English.  

We have documented abuses of this kind in countries throughout the Americas.  Some of the worst abuses we’ve seen anywhere are taking place right now at the Federico Mora psychiatric facility in Guatemala.   Men, women, boys, and girls are trafficked and abused at the facility, yet they do not have the legal right to challenge their abuse.  The Inter-American Commission called on Guatemala to take immediate steps to protect the lives of Federico Mora’s detainees, but so far Guatemala has failed to act. – Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director of DRI. 

Read DRI’s petition for precautionary measures and the Inter-American Commission’s order. Full recommendations to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued by DRI and partners: