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June 10, 2020
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National Leaders in the Mental Health Aspects
of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Safety through Inclusion: The Case for Emergency Deinstitutionalization

On behalf of Disability Rights International, we are writing to invite you to two webinars this coming week (see agenda and registration links below) to examine the immediate need to protect children and adults with disabilities in institutions, psych facilities, orphanages, group homes, nursing homes, and other institutions around the world. This is a very high level series of webinars that is bringing together, among others, two members of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Committee, the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability, the President of the Inter-American Commission, the Rapporteur on the Rights of  Children in the Americas, and the UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Accessibility for People with Disabilities. 

This two-part webinar is a call for immediate action to protect children and adults with disabilities in institutions.

Part 1: Global perspective: Thursday, June 11, 2020, 9 AM EST

Sponsored by the European Network on Independent Living, Validity Foundation, and Disability Rights International. Additional information below.

This webinar will be held in English.

Register for Part 1

Part 2: Americas: Friday, June 12, 2020, 11:30 AM EST

Sponsored by Disability Rights International. Additional information below.

This webinar will be held in Spanish.

Register for Part 2

People with disabilities, international human rights authorities, and activists discuss:

  • Immediate threats to the health and life of children and adults in institutions due to COVID-19;
  • Emergency protections against irreparable harm through international human rights systems;
  • How to protect people with disabilities through community inclusion and emergency deinstitutionalization;
  • The case for an international commission to protect people with disabilities in institutions through inclusion and emergency deinstitutionalization.

Background: Viruses spread like wildfire in institutional settings. The COVID-19 pandemic has created life-threatening dangers for children and adults in congregate living situations – nursing homes, psychiatric facilities, group homes, and orphanages. Elders are particularly at risk, but people with disabilities of all ages are also threatened. At least 30% of deaths in some countries are taking place in residential care facilities. Where there is any response, many governments have simply locked down institutions – making oversight more difficult and creating increased risks of violence, abuse, denial of medical care, and segregation from society.  Instead of providing safety, institutions are places where people are inherently at risk of infection and human rights violations.

How can health and safety be immediately protected for people with disabilities living in institutional settings? What immediate steps can be taken to promote community inclusion and to provide housing and care in communities? How do we implement the recommendation of the UN High Commission on Human Rights to:

  • Discharge and release persons with disabilities from institutions and promptly ensure provision of support in the community?
  • Recover better by adopting and reinforcing deinstitutionalization strategies to close institutions and return people to the community, and strengthening supports and services for persons with disabilities and older persons?

Part 1: June 11, 2020 (This webinar will be held in English)

Safety through inclusion: The case for emergency deinstitutionalization globally

Sponsored by the European Network for Independent Living, Validity Foundation, and Disability Rights International

Moderator: Ines Bulic, Deputy Director, European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) 

Speakers:

  • Ann Campbell, Co-Executive Director, Validity Foundation
  • Catalina Devandas, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Dr George Nikolaidis, Chair, Lanzarote Committee, Council of Europe
  • Danlami Basharu, Chair, Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director, Disability Rights International (DRI)

Part 2

June 12, 2020 (This webinar will be held in Spanish)

Safety through inclusion in the Americas

Sponsored by Disability Rights International

Moderator: Priscila Rodriguez, Associate Director, Disability Rights International

Speakers:

  • Joel Hernandez, President, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)
  • Maria Soledad Cisternas, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Disability
  • Amalia Gamio, Member, UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, Commissioner & Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child, IACHR
  • Silvia Quan, President, Colectivo Vida Independiente, former member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Macarena Sabin Paz, Coordinator of the Mental Health team, CELS, Argentina
Thanks for reading,

The Center for START Services

 
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Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire