Challenges Implementing Disability Rights Treaty?

Posted on 17 May 2009. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Comments or Information, Human Rights, Networking Opportunities, Opinion, Psychiatric Disabilities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Abdul-Jeff Maalik Makana, the Executive Director of MindFreedom Kenya, wants to learn more about the challenges that other countries experience in implementing the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Below is his appeal for information. Please respond directly to him at kenya@mindfreedom.org.

Dear All,

Greetings from non sunny Nairobi day today!

We have a challenge here in Kenya advocating for the implementation of the UN CRPD. Are other states experiencing similar challenges? What are the challenges?

I recently on a media appearence to create awareness about the work of MindFreedom Kenya & advocating for the implementation of the UN CRPD… one caller to the show reinforced the general view that persons with psychosocial disabilities have no capacity at any time to make decision (Legal capacity) though the UN CRPD guarantees legal capacity(article 12) or even supported decision making.

To quote Daniel Hazen—Human Rights and Advocacy “cease the practice of exceptionalism when it comes to human rights” meaning we cannot downplay the CRPD which is a very important rallying point for our movement.

Mental Health (MH) policies cannot be written in a vacuum…. State parties and other stakeholders should get direction that adopting certain articles of the CRPD versus the CRPD in its entirety has far reaching consequences more so article 12 (right to legal capacity) a big part of the user/survivor movement advocacy.

Lastly, why was the term psychosocial disabled adopted in the UN CRPD versus the term mentally disabled or mentally ill? Here in Africa many don’t see mental illness as a disability? Can you please help me understand how to advocate better for psychosocial disabled term to be adopted and accepted locally.

What are your views:

I am doing a Survey on supporting signing/ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by state parties without reservations.

This obligation would require that the States both refrain from actions that undermine the principles and initiate efforts which would promote them. You can also e-mail your comments directly to kenya@mindfreedom.org
Question:

As a user, a survivor. mental health worker, or human rights activist in mental health do you support the position that the CRPD is non negotiable, and that the nature of this commitment obligates state parties to completely review MH policies and legislation which relied on flawed WHO MI Principles? *

http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=cnR3dTlrTGFGRjFXY3g2YWhvTUJESUE6MA..

A few sampling of responses collected regarding the above question:

This obligation would require that the States both refrain from actions that undermine the principles and initiate efforts which would promote them.(MH Policy, legislation’s, new MH laws, civic education, more access to mental services at the community level, empowering of persons with psychosocial disabilities to participate equally in society without being discriminated based on disabilities).

Absolutely I support it!! Recently there have been reports that they are opening “behavioral” units in nursing homes in New York State–a way to lock us up again quietly so there won’t be too many complaints. Fortunately we noticed and… Read More now there’s a lawsuit. Good thing so many of us “suffer” from hypervigelance!! Anyway, so good to see that we’re coming together internationally. We can and will find our power no matter how hard the system tried to hold us down.

I am not sure that I can ask for the UN treaty to become nationalized, but I do agree with many of the tenets. I think that I can see where some conflicts of interest might be involved. So better person by person, not this group or that. That is what I think….

With kind regards,

Abdul-Jeff Maalik Makana

__________________________________
Abdul Maalik bin Ali formerly,
Jeff Makana

Executive Director,
MindFreedom Kenya(MF-K)
E-mail:kenya@mindfreedom.org
website: http://www.mindfreedomkenya.interconnection.org
Follow me on twitter@ www.twitter.com/Jeffmakana



Thank you to Abdul Maalik bin Ali for submitting this announcement for publication at We Can Do.

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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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RESOURCE: MindFreedom Kenya Promotes Mental Health Rights

Posted on 18 December 2008. Filed under: Human Rights, Networking Opportunities, Opportunities, Psychiatric Disabilities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

MindFreedom Kenya is an affiliate of MindFreedom International, formed in response to identified gaps in mental health rights, lack of adequate information about substance abuse and impact to society and those directly affected. Since its inception, MindFreedom Kenya has endeavored to develop efforts to transform and diversify the marginalized and the most vulnerable-persons with psychosocial disabilities.

It helps users and survivors to be involved in care planning and making informed decisions about their care and upholding of human rights, advocating inhumane treatment and creating awareness about substance abuse and psychosocial disabilities.

For users and survivors of psychiatry, one of the most important things about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is that it says we have an equal right to legal capacity, which is the right to make our own decisions; and the right to free and informed consent in health care; and that we should not be deprived of liberty based on disability – which means that governments are violating this treaty if they lock us up in psychiatric institutions and do forced treatment. They also have positive obligations, to provide support and services needed to live in the community, and to provide access to support in exercising legal capacity if the person wants this support. Support in exercising legal capacity is the opposite of guardianship, because it means the person is in control of her/his own decisions and chooses the kind of help that she/he wants.

MindFreedom Kenya aim is to influence policy and planning, and to encourage improvements in the management and delivery of mental health services.

Ø Policy makers acknowledging the need and strongly pursuing mental health policies that positively impact their constituents and calling for revision of existing mental policies to match today’s complex and changing mental health care.
Ø Leaders in health profession, professional associations, mental health boards and health care companies to take a leading role in initiatives that increase access, quality and equity. On the same note, they must be able to establish a mental health advisory council independent from government that works collaboratively with policy makers. This mental health advisory council will create a mental health reform blueprints with support and input from both public and private health care sectors. The mental health advisory council along and/with sponsoring policy makers will ensure that such mental health policies are passed, implemented and delivered.
Ø Human Right organizations must recognize equity, access and quality of mental health care is a basic human right and they must take initiatives that will harness just distribution, fair and favorable policies and practically implementable mental health rights processes.
Ø Humanitarian Organizations involved in health care, WHO (World Health Org.) and UN (United Nations) to continue supporting mental health locally made policies and initiatives that are practical to the social realities of the people who need equal representation against abuses within the mental health system.

Regards,
Jeff Makana
kenya@mindfreedom.org
[Addendum, March 23, 2009: MindFreedom Kenya has a new website of its own at http://www.mindfreedomkenya.interconnection.org/

People also can learn about the organization at Jeff Makana’s blog at www.erucall.com.



Thank you to Jeff Makana for permission to post this information at We Can Do.

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NEWS: Disability Rights Fund Makes Grants to 33 Organizations in 7 Countries

Posted on 10 November 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Funding, Human Rights, Latin America & Caribbean, News, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

PRESS RELEASE
Disability Rights Fund Makes Grants to 33 Organizations in 7 Countries

November 3, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BOSTON, MA – The Disability Rights Fund (DRF) – a groundbreaking collaborative to support the human rights of people with disabilities around the world– today announced funding decisions from its first request for proposals. A total of $800,000 will be gifted to 33 organizations in seven countries. The grants will support work to raise awareness about the rights of people with disabilities, build coalitions and networks, and develop advocacy and monitoring activities, in connection with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

DRF grantees share the goal of advancing the rights of people with disabilities at the country-level. Recipients include:
• A Ugandan organization of lawyers with disabilities.
• An emergent Peruvian group of people with psycho-social disabilities.
• A grassroots network in Bangladesh of women-led disabled persons’ organizations.
The full grantee list is posted on the DRF website, www.disabilityrightsfund.org/grantees.html and is available upon request.

“As the disability rights movement gains new impetus through the UN Convention we are delighted to play our part by placing new funding in the hands of DPOs to enable them to advance rights at country level,” stated DRF Co-Chair, William Rowland. DRF Director, Diana Samarasan, added “It is an auspicious day to put money in the hands of organizations run by people with disabilities. The first Conference of States Parties to the Convention is being held at the UN; the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is being elected. The work of translating the Convention from paper to practice is before us.”

Grantees were selected after a rigorous review process which included review by DRF’s Steering Committee, a committee composed of donor representatives and people with disabilities from the Global South.

DRF’s donors include: an anonymous founding donor, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Open Society Institute, the UK’s Department for International Development, and the American Jewish World Service.

A grantee list can be requested from DRF by writing to dsamarasan@disabilityrightsfund.org. Or you can consult the Grantee web page at the Disability Rights Fund website.

####

As an addendum from this We Can Do editor, I would like to encourage readers to consult the Disability Rights Fund website to learn about upcoming funding opportunities from their organization for projects to promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Readers may also wish to consult their extensive resource listings to find resources that can help them learn how to raise funds, find funding sources, and use the CRPD to promote the human rights of people with disabilities in their country.



Thank you to Diana Samarasan for circulating this press release.

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RESOURCE: Guidelines on Mental Health in Emergency Situations

Posted on 24 September 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Disaster Planning & Mitigation, Psychiatric Disabilities, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Natural disasters and conflicts can threaten people’s ability to survive. The most urgent need is usually to bring them food, water, shelter, and other basic services. But emergency situations also can be traumatizing. Even people who did not have any psycho-social disabilities before the emergency may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. And people who already had psycho-social disabilities may be at higher risk during emergencies. Professionals in the humanitarian field increasingly recognize the need to address these challenges in the weeks and months following the start of an emergency situation.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) has released the “IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings,” (PDF format, 831 Kb) which offers suggestions for how professionals can better coordinate services across multiple sectors and agencies to meet the mental health needs of people in emergency settings.

This 99-page publication points out that most mental health services during these situations are very fragmented and poorly coordinated. Some efforts may simply duplicate services already offered without improving upon them. Meanwhile, some dire needs may be overlooked entirely. The answer, they say, is for more agencies, humanitarian organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to stop working in isolation and start coordinating efforts with other agencies working in the same location.

They emphasize, “Implementation of the guidelines requires extensive collaboration among various humanitarian actors: no single community or agency is expected to have the capacity to implement all necessary minimum responses in the midst of an emergency” (IASC Guidelines, p. 7).

The guide’s inclusion of issues specific to people with existing psycho-social disabilities, including people in institutions, is good to see. People with psycho-social disabilities generally tend to be perhaps the most overlooked among people with disabilities, and people who are forced into institutions are even more forgotten and abandoned by society.

It is disappointing, however, that the guide, at least in my cursory glance at it, did not seem to have more than superficial references to the mental health needs of people who might have physical or sensory disabilities, either with or without additional psycho-social disabilities. This was a missed opportunity to point out, for example, that deaf people may need sign language interpreters or other communication assistance to fully participate in “talk” related services (support groups, etc.). Or that natural disasters, war, and other emergencies can themselves cause new disabilities–and that people may struggle in the first few months afterwards to adjust, psychologically and socially, to their new situation. Or that people who happen to have both a psycho-social disability and also a physical or sensory disability may have been excluded from mental health services even before the emergency–and should not be overlooked during and after.

But, for people concerned with the mental health needs of all people during emergency situations, this guide may serve as a starting point in thinking how to coordinate broader efforts in addressing them. They can download the guide (PDF format, 831 Kb) at:

http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/content/products/docs/Guidelines%20IASC%20Mental%20Health%20Psychosocial.pdf

People interested in the needs of people with disabilities during emergency situations in general might also be interested in the following prior blog posts at We Can Do:

And do also become familiar with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which, among other things, obligates the countries that ratify it to protect the safety of people with disabilities during humanitarian emergencies (see Article 11 of the CRPD).



We Can Do learned about this guide via the email discussion group for the Global Partnership for Disability and Development.

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REPORT: Violence Against Disabled Children

Posted on 8 March 2008. Filed under: Academic Papers and Research, Children, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Reports, Resources, Violence | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

UNICEF has released a summary report entitled, “Violence Against Disabled Children” (PDF format 245 Kb), with the subtitle “UN Secretary Generals Report on Violence against Children, Thematic Group on Violence against Disabled Children, Findings and Recommendations.”

The first half of this report, released in July 2005, summarizes what is known about violence toward children with disabilities at home, in schools, in institutions, in the criminal justice system, within the broader community, and at work (in child labor situations). Children with disabilities are known to be at higher risk for abuse, partly because they may be perceived as “easy victims.” Also, abuse toward disabled children is less likely to be investigated or persecuted, which means abusers know it is easier to escape consequences even if the abuse is discovered.

Many children, with or without disabilities, may face adults who fail to listen or to believe them when they try to report abuse. But children with disabilities face additional barriers. As one example, some adults may mistakenly assume that a child with intellectual disabilities or psycho-social disabilities must surely be “confused,” or unable to tell right from wrong, or unable to make their own decisions about what is done to their bodies.

Disabled children may also be targeted for child murder, either because parents perceive them as bringing shame to the family or because adults may be convinced they will be “better off” dead than disabled. In countries where many men share the belief that sex with a virgin will “cleanse” them of HIV/AIDS, girls, boys, and adults with disabilities may be targeted for rape on the assumption that they do not have sex. Children with disabilities also may be forcibly sterilized, sometimes as early as the age of 8 or 9.

The report makes a series of 13 recommendations for families, communities, policy makers, governments, advocates, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or Civil Society Organizations, United Nations agencies, and other stakeholders with an interest in preventing violence toward disabled children. These recommendations include, as a few examples: increasing public awareness; reforming legislation so that the laws can better protect children with disabilities; advocating change to improve inclusion of disabled people throughout society; improving reporting mechanisms so that people who become aware of abuse have a way to report it; closing down institutions and integrating disabled children into the community; but also improving government oversight of institutions for as long as they continue to exist.

The 33-page report can be downloaded in PDF format (245 Kb) at:

http://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/PDFs/UNICEF_Violence_Against_Disabled_Children_Report_Distributed_Version.pdf

People interested in the topic of violence against children may also wish to read an article on violence and disabled children in the 2003 issue of the joint Rehabilitation International and UNICEF newsletter, One in Ten:

http://riglobal.org/publications2/10_24.htm

Also of possible interest:

A recent report, Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities could give ideas to advocates and families for how they can use international human rights laws to protect the rights of children with disabilities.

Learn about a report on human rights abuses of disabled children and adults in Serbia, including the use of violence.

Read a paper on Violence Against Blind and Visually Impaired Girls in Malawi

Those interested in abuse and human rights violations in institutional settings may also wish to read the following first-hand accounts written by the same author, Amanda Baggs. These are well worth reading. Some talk about the more obvious kinds of violence that most people are used to thinking of as “abuse.” Some talk about forms of psychological manipulation that are so subtle that outside observers might miss them. But Amanda Baggs makes powerful arguments for why “outposts in our head,” or the uses of power nevertheless can be at least as important for anyone who cares about the well-being of children (and adults) with disabilities. Click on any title below to see Amanda Bagg’s post:

Why It’s So Hard to Write Directly About My Life
Outposts in Our Heads: The Intangible Horrors of Institutions that Must Not Be Forgotten
The Meaning of Power
Extreme Measures, and Then Some



We Can Do learned about the UNICEF report on violence against disabled children from the AskSource.info database. Asksource.info provides a library of information, resources, and toolkits related to people with disabilities and to health issues, particularly in developing countries.



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Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.



This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. Other sites are most likely plagiarizing this post without permission.

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NEWS: Christian Blind Mission Now for All Disabilities

Posted on 6 January 2008. Filed under: Blind, Cross-Disability, Deaf, Education, Mobility Impariments, News, Psychiatric Disabilities, Rehabilitation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

The Christian Blind Mission has announced that they will now serve people with all disabilities, not only people with vision impairments. Until now, the century-old organization also known as Christoffel Blinden Mission and now officially named cbm, has focused its efforts on preventing and treating blindness and on providing education and rehabilitation services for people with vision impairment.

“The organization has decided that its purpose and work is to improve the quality of life of all persons with disability, which includes those with hearing or physical impairment and mental ill health as well as those with visual loss,” says CBM president, Prof. Allen Foster.

CBM has also issued a new motto: “Together we can do more.” The word “together” is meant to emphasize the importance of partnership, particularly with organizations in low-income countries and with mainstream development organizations. The phrase “we can” is meant to emphasize ability over disability. And “do more” is meant to challenge the fact that the majority of people with disabilities in developing nations do not receive the medical, educational, and rehabilitation services they need.

CBM works with more than 700 partners in more than 100 countries to serve more than 18 million people with disabilities.

More detail can be found at:

http://www.cbmicanada.org/news_viewer.asp?news_id=138



Thank you to Ghulam Nabi Nazimani for helping alert me to this news.



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