International Disability Rights News from the Disability Funders Network

April 15, 2010

International Disability Rights News
A service of the Disability Funders Network and the International Human Rights Funders Group

April, 2010

Welcome to a new format for a monthly bulletin of the disability rights list serve. This list serve supports the grantmakers involved in the IHRFG and DFN affinity groups.  Members share information on current events, resources and grantmaking news related to international disability rights.  Please send any posting that you might want to share to Catherine Townsend.

Interesting in networking with other funders supporting disability rights?

We’re looking to develop a networking space for funders to share their work on international disability rights.  If you’re wondering what others are doing in their grantmaking and want to better understand the landscape of funding, please email Catherine Townsend.


In Haiti, Mental Health System is in Collapse.

Invisible Women.

MDAC launches project on CRPD Monitoring.

Women with Disbilities at the Commission for the Status of Women.

Interrights involved in strategic litigation around disability rights

Newsletters from the Field.

Upcoming events

In Haiti, Mental Health System is in Collapse

New York Times, Deborah Sontag

Haiti’s earthquake has exposed the inadequacies of its mental health services at the moment they are most needed. 

Click here for the full article

Invisible Women

Huffington Post, Joe Amon (Human Rights Watch)

At least 10 percent of the world’s population is believed to live with a disability.  Of those, let’s say that half – 340 million – are women. That’s roughly the size of the entire population of the US and Canada combined.

Yet you don't often hear about the issues facing women with disabilities -- issues such as forced sterilization, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Click here for the full article

MDAC launches project on CRPD Monitoring

The Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) has launched a one-year initiative in which it will seek to provide guidance to governments and NGOs on the effective implementation of Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the provision which focuses on domestic implementation of the Convention.

Click here for the full article

Women with Disbilities at the Commission for the Status of Women

On 4 March, the Secretariat for the CRPD along with the Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD), organized a panel discussion on “Cross-sectionalities of gender, disability, and development: Towards equality for women and girls with disabilities”. Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Director of International Human Rights Policy at the Wellesley Centers for Women, discussed four country projects in Asia and highlighted ways in which the women’s rights and disability rights movements mutually reinforced and strengthened each other. Ms. Luz Angela Melo, Human Rights Technical Adviser, United Nations Population Fund discussed the sexual reproductive health of women with disability. Ms. Ana Pelaez, Vice-chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities showed how girls and women with disabilities face multiple discrimination. She also provided strategies and recommendations to address the injustice. 

To access a new web resource on women with disabilities, click here.

Interrights involved in strategic litigation around disability rights

Interights, an international human rights organization involved in strategic litigation, is currently involved in several legal cases focused on the rights of persons with disabilities.

1.       Farcas v Romania – This case concerns the governments' obligation to ensure that public buildings and infrastructure are accessible.  Due to the authorities’ failure to eliminate physical barriers that prevent people with disabilities from enjoying public services and the stigma and ignorance related to disability, the applicant became a passive beneficiary of state assistance rather than an active and independent person, who was well integrated into the community.

2.       Malacu and others v Romania (the Poiana Mare Hospital case) –  This case raises issues of access to justice for people with disabilities as well as shedding light on the failure of authorities to prevent the numerous abuses perpetrated against people with disabilities inside social care institutions and psychiatric hospitals. A positive decision from the Court would strengthen the case against long-stay residential institutions and in favor of community living for people with disabilities.

3.       Campeanu vs Romania  involves the death of the applicant in a Romanian psychiatric hospital.  Right to life cases currently require a next of kin.  Therefore, claims regarding the deaths of people with disabilities who are institutionalized and lack any known next of kin cannot be made.  The Court should amend its rules to be in line with the CRPD. The case presents the Court the opportunity to examine difficult issues related to intersectional discrimination (the applicant had a severe intellectual disability, was HIV-positive and was institutionalized his whole life) and highlight the problems associated with the difficult transition from a children’s social institution to independent life as an adult.

4.       DD vs. Lithuania is a case before the Strasbourg Court about the removal of DD’s legal capacity and her institutionalization. Hopefully, the Court will highlight the type of support that States must provide under the European Convention on Human Rights, reaffirm the right to community living and clarify procedural safeguards concerning legal capacity, guardianship and institutionalization.

Newsletters from the Field

Disabled Peoples International (DPI) – April 2, 2010 newsletter

International Disability Alliance (IDA) – March 2010

United Nations Enable – March 2010 (this newsletter reports on all UN meetings related to disability issues)

Upcoming events


The United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) Annual Meeting will be held on Monday, April 26 at the Washington offices of InterAction. The afternoon will include an annual report to the members, business of the membership, and a program of stimulating discussions. CART and ASL interpretation will be provided. For more information, click here.


The Disability Rights Working Group will meet during the July 13-14, 2010 meeting of the International Human Rights Funders Group.  Save the dates!


The third Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the CRPD will be held from 1-3 September 2010 at UNHQ in New York with the theme “Implementing the Convention through Advancing Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.”  The meeting will focus on the election of members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, substantive roundtable discussions and an interactive informal session with civil society.  Click here for more information.