NEWS: Bulgarians with Mental Disabilities Suffer Inhumane Treatment

Posted on 22 February 2009. Filed under: Cognitive Impairments, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Human Rights, News, Psychiatric Disabilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Geneva, 3 December 2008

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) and the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) come together to express their serious concern over the situation of persons with mental disabilities, one of the most marginalised and discriminated groups in Bulgarian society.

In a series of letters to members of the Bulgarian Parliament and Government, officials and elected representatives in the European Union, and the United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders, the three organisations underline that persons with mental disabilities in Bulgaria, “frequently face social exclusion and severe human rights violations, including violence and ill-treatment”, and express their concern that, “[i]nadequate legislation together with entrenched institutional policies and practices also compromise their socio-economic well-being, as well as that of their families”.

Regardless of the skills and capabilities which persons with mental disabilities in Bulgaria possess, they are often deemed incompetent, deprived of their legal capacity and placed under guardianship. Bulgaria’s outdated legislation on deprivation of legal capacity removes a person’s right to make their own decisions and denies the exercise of their basic human rights, including the rights to marry, vote, work, take legal action and seek judicial remedies. Deprivation of a person’s legal capacity also impedes their rights to a fair trial, to own property and to respect for their personal and family life. In most cases, persons with mental disabilities who are placed under guardianship in Bulgaria are forced to live in large and remote residential institutions and to remain there for the rest of their lives. Once institutionalised, they are at risk of ill-treatment from staff and subjected to prison-like regimes. Indeed, living conditions in some of these institutions have been deemed to amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.

Please read the rest of this news release from the World Organization Against Torture at their web site by clicking on the following URL: http://www.omct.org/index.php?id=&lang=eng&actualPageNumber=1&articleId=8204&itemAdmin=article

I received this press release via several sources including the IDA_CRPD_Forum listserver; the AdHoc_IDC listserver; the RatifyNow organization’s listserver; and others. Only the first two paragraphs is quoted here. Please follow the link provided above to read the full story.

Note that “mental disabilities” is often used to refer to both people with intellectual disabilities and also people with psychosocial disabilities. Although these are very different disabilities, both populations in many countries are frequently locked up in the same institutions and may experience similar types of human rights violations.

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NEWS: Kosovo Disability Community Urges US President-Elect Barack Obama to Support International Disability Rights

Posted on 18 December 2008. Filed under: Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Human Rights, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

03 December 2008,
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Dear Mr. Obama,

Congratulations to US. People and to you personally on your historic win to be 44th President of the United States of America .

Your acceptance speech was so good to hear when many minority groups have been mentioned, specifically persons with disabilities and it shows that you believe in celebrating the diversity present in society.

We are pleased to send you our compliments on your disability platform of four parts:
• Increasing educational opportunities,
• Ending discrimination and promoting equal opportunity,
• Increasing the employment rate of workers with disabilities and
• Supporting independent living of persons with disabilities

We believe those to be the best practices which will lead the world in empowering persons with disabilities to take full advantage of their talents and become independent, integrated members of society.

We, persons with disabilities from Republic of Kosovo congratulate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities as well as the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to all our friends and colleagues in U.S and to you.

The celebration of 2008 as a significant year in the global disability rights movement, given the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as the first international, legally-binding human rights treaty for persons with disabilities, will give us the opportunities to achieve a vision of a society where all can live with dignity and respect.

Finally, we urge you to use your new position as a world leader for the welfare of persons with disabilities not just in your great country of United States of America , but also in other countries around the world. In short, we want the idea of universal human rights to become a reality to all of us.

Our warmest regards and best wishes from Republic Kosovo

Hiljmnijeta Apuk, Human Rights Defender

On behalf of the membership of Little People of Kosovo, multiethnic NGOs partnership of Voluntary Promotional Program of Disability Mentoring Days – DMD, Monthly magazine “Newspaper to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of Kosovo” in 6 languages, Hendifer – Ferizaj and Art Coalition of Authentic Culture of Persons with Disabilities.



Thank you to Hiljmnijeta Apuk for granting permission to post this letter at We Can Do. A global campaign is under way to urge people with disabilities, our loved ones, colleagues, and other allies from around the world to send emails to Obama to increase the visibility of disability issues within Obama’s administration. Learn more about the international Call To Action and how you can participate at https://wecando.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/disabilities-email-obama/. Most of the same text is also in the slide show further below (click on the arrows to move through the show).

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UN Secretary General Acknowledges Disability Rights Treaty, Disability Day

Posted on 30 November 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN MESSAGE FOR INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, SAYS MUCH TO CELEBRATE WITH ENTRY INTO FORCE OF RIGHTS CONVENTION

Following is United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed 3 December:

This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities falls just a week before the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations is commemorating both under the theme, “Dignity and justice for all of us”.

We have much to celebrate this year. The entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in May was a turning point. When the first Conference of the Parties convened in October, participants immediately began considering how the Convention can serve as a tool to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This progress has been made possible thanks to the active participation and leadership of persons with disabilities, by ensuring that they have access to — and are included in — all aspects of our work.

The United Nations remains committed to this approach. The renovation of our Headquarters complex through the Capital Master Plan will bring our facilities up to the latest standards of accessibility. These advances are long overdue.

The General Assembly has stressed that, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we must include persons with disabilities in all processes. With 80 per cent of persons with disabilities — more than 400 million people — living in poor countries, we need to do much more to break the cycle of poverty and disability.

The slogan of the International Disability Alliance is: “Nothing about us without us.” A disabled person from Swaziland, who has been fighting for the implementation of a disability policy there, has said: “We need total integration to do away with the evil of stigmatization.”

In that same spirit, I urge Governments and all stakeholders to ensure that persons with disabilities and their organizations are an integral part of all development processes. In this way, we can promote integration and pave the way for a better future for all people in society.



The above comments from the UN Secretary General were recently circulated on several different international disability-oriented email discussion lists, including the one for RatifyNow. RatifyNow is an organization devoted to promoting the ratification and implementation of the CRPD.

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World Disability Day 2008 Celebrated in India

Posted on 30 November 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Events and Conferences, News, South Asian Region | Tags: , , |

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is being held on December 3, 2008. The following announcement relates to events being held in India. People are welcome to submit announcements about similar events in other developing nations for publication at We Can Do by emailing ashettle [at] patriot.net — substitute the @ at sign for [at] and omit the spaces.

Subject: Please help spread awareness about World Disability Day 2008, India

World Disability Day 2008 is on: www.wdd.co.in

Dear Friend,

3rd December 2008 is World Disability Day.

It is an important day for the 70 million people with disabilities in India as well as so many more all over the world. Some progress has been made in the area of disability in India in the last few years especially in the last 1 year. India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and also the XIth Five year plan has included Disability for the first time in the History of India. However, talking about it and implementing it are two completely different things. NO steps have been taken by the Government of India to implement them. Even the basic rights of education, employment and access are not available to people with disability.

So why should we celebrate World Disability Day at all?

Do you want to do something about it? Please visit www.wdd.co.in to know more about how you can help.

We are also on Facebook Causes: Inviting you and your friends to join a cause.
Please visit this cause: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/163349?recruiter_id=32816470

For more information, please visit: www.wdd.co.in



Thank you to Mahesh Chandrasekar for passing along this announcement. People who wish to learn more detail about the events in India should please follow the appropriate links above. If you wish to submit your own announcement for publication at We Can Do, send me an email or leave a comment here with your email address in the email field.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3, 2008

Posted on 11 September 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Events and Conferences, Human Rights, News, Opportunities | Tags: , , , , , |

[One of the most common kinds of announcements I post at We Can Do are events and conferences organized by a wide range of organizations and agencies. But this time, this is an event that YOU can help organize for YOUR country or local community.]

International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3 December
2008 Theme: “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Dignity and justice for all of us”.

Dignity and justice for all of us is the theme of this year’s International Day for Persons with Disabilities, as well as for the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Dignity and justice for all persons are established universal principles. Since its inception, the United Nations has recognized that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundations of freedom, justice and peace in the world. These principles, along with equality and non-discrimination, have guided the work of the United Nations for the past 60 years and are enshrined in various instruments such as the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in treaties such as the International Covenants on Human Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These instruments are among those which make up the international human rights framework, are complementary and reaffirm that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

2008 is a significant year in the international human rights movement given the entry into force on 3 May of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, legally binding instruments which set out the legal obligations of States to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 25 of the UDHR provides that each person has “the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”. Several articles in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expound on this right to security, including article 10 on right to life and article 14 on liberty and security of person. Article 28 is more specific in that it asks that States Parties take steps to safeguard and promote that realization of the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection, including ensuring “access by persons with disabilities and their families living in situations of poverty to assistance from the State with disability-related expenses, including adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care”. These instruments mark a clear reaffirmation that persons with disabilities have the right to full and equal enjoyment of their human rights. They also mark a clear reaffirmation of the principles of ‘dignity and justice for all of us’.

Around 10 per cent of the world’s population, or 650 million people, live with disabilities. The Convention promotes and protects the human rights of persons with disabilities in civil, cultural, economic, political, and social life. However, all over the world, persons with disabilities continue to face barriers to their participation in society and are often forced to live on the margins of society. They are routinely denied basic rights such as to equal recognition before the law and legal capacity, freedom of expression and opinion, and the right to participate in political and public life, such as voting. Many persons with disabilities are forced into institutions, a direct breach of the rights to freedom of movement and to live in the community.
Eighty per cent of persons with disabilities – more than 400 million people – live in poor countries and there is a strong link between disability and poverty. For example, the statistics on employment for persons with disabilities are staggering. In developing countries, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of persons with disabilities of working age unemployed and in industrialized countries it is estimated to be between 50 per cent and 70 per cent. The rights to education and health are also routinely denied. Ninety per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school, says UNESCO. Approximately 20 million women acquire disabilities as a result of complications during pregnancy or childbirth. This continued marginalization against persons with disabilities highlights the need for all States to sign, ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.

The United Nations and the global community must ensure that all its work is inclusive of persons with disabilities. The Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved if persons with disabilities are not included. Efforts to achieve the MDGs and implement the Convention are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as well during the year-long celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us use “dignity and justice for all of us” as a rallying call, as these principles are far from being realized for everyone. Dignity and justice are embodied in the civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights promoted by the Convention. Therefore, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a time to make a renewed commitment to the ratification and full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.

One of the fundamental obligations contained in the Convention is that national law should guarantee the enjoyment of the rights enumerated in the Convention. States Parties should thus consider the best ways of giving effect to the rights guaranteed by the Convention in domestic law. Implementing legislation should include the terms of the Convention or a specific reference to them, in order to indicate clearly that the laws should be interpreted in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Convention.

Legislation alone will not ensure that persons with disabilities can enjoy their human rights. States will need to formulate effective policies and programmes that will transform the provisions of the Convention into practices that will have a real impact on the lives of persons with disabilities. For persons with disabilities, as for all persons, the denial of one right can lead to the denial of other rights and opportunities throughout their lives.

Article 33 explains that States must set up national focal points governments in order to monitor implementation of the Convention’s precepts. States must also set up independent monitoring mechanisms, which usually take the form of an independent national human rights institution.

The full participation of civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, is essential in the national monitoring and implementation process. International monitoring is achieved via the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Conference of States Parties. The first meeting of the Conference of States Parties will be convened by the Secretary-General no later than six months after the entry into force on 3 May 2008 of the Convention.

This International Day for Persons with Disabilities is a time to make a renewed commitment to these principles of dignity and justice and to ensure implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

All human beings are not only entitled to rights, but also have the responsibility of making universal human rights a reality for all of us.

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December, aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. The theme of the Day is based on the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities, established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by General Assembly in 1982. The official title of the Day was changed from International Day of Disabled Persons to International Day of Persons with Disabilities by General Assembly resolution 62/127 on 18 December 2007.

How the Day may be observed
Involve: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all interested communities – governmental, non-governmental and the private sector – to focus upon catalytic and innovative measures to further implement international norms and standards related to persons with disabilities. Schools, universities and similar institutions can make particular contributions with regard to promoting greater interest and awareness among interested parties of the social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights of persons with disabilities.

Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns in support of the Day focusing on disability issues and trends and ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families are pursuing independent life styles, sustainable livelihoods and financial security.

Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to showcase – and celebrate – the contributions by persons with disabilities to the societies in which they live and convene exchanges and dialogues focusing on the rich and varied skills, interests and aspirations of persons with disabilities.

Take Action: A major focus of the Day is practical action to further implement international norms and standards concerning persons with disabilities and to further their participation in social life and development on the basis of equality. The media have especially important contributions to make in support of the observance of the Day – and throughout the year – regarding appropriate presentation of progress and obstacles implementing disability-sensitive policies, programmes and projects and to promote public awareness of the contributions by persons with disabilities.



The text for this announcement is taken from the United Nations Enable website.

In a developing country? Organizing activities for the local disability community? Please send announcements about your event to We Can Do at ashettle [at] patriot.net.

Understand the CRPD better by reading the RatifyNow FAQ on the CRPD.

Read more about past celebrations of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

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