DAA News Network

Russia Paves Way for Mental Health Rights

Posted 11/3-09 at 00.05

On 27 February 2009, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation decided its first case concerning regulations and procedures for assessing legal capacity. This is one of the key issues affecting people living with mental health issues. It concerns their participation on an equal basis with others in exercising basic human rights. 

In ruling on the case brought by the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC), the Court reiterated that discrimination of persons with mental health conditions is impermissible under the Russian Constitution. 

Agreeing with a finding by the European Court of Human Rights that guardianship is a "very serious" interference with the right to privacy, the Constitutional Court stated that the interests of a person under guardianship must be especially protected due to the significant loss of fundamental rights and freedoms of people under guardianship.

Welcoming the judgment, MDAC Executive Director Oliver Lewis stated:

"The Russian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights have both issued damning critiques of Russia's guardianship arrangements which routinely strip people with mental disabilities in Russia of all their fundamental rights. Having researched guardianship arrangements, brought a series of cases framing guardianship as a human rights issue, MDAC now offers technical assistance to the Government to ensure that a new law enhances autonomy and respects rights."  

For the full article or details on the Mental Disabilities Advocacy Centre, MDAC click here.

Human Rights Abuses

In Russia, and many other countries, inadequate guardianship laws are abused to strip a person of their right to decide where and with whom to live, and how to manage their own money. Disabled people are frequently denied the right to work, exacerbating the link between disability and poverty. They are stripped of their right to vote, entrenching the political invisibility of disabled people in Russia. They are denied the right to family life, to marry, and to associate - meaning that people under guardianship cannot organize to fight for their rights. 

In essence, they are plunged into 'civil death', becoming non-human in the eyes of the law, asserts the Mental Disabilities Advocacy Centre, MDAC.

What human rights abuses are you concerned about? What do you think of this court ruling?

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