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Important Notice: As of 1 November 2023, Ms. Heba Hagrass (Egypt) has been appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the current Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities. This site now serves as an archive of the work and contributions of Mr. Gerard Quinn during his tenure. For the latest updates and official communications from the Special Rapporteur, please visit the UN Special Rapporteurs Page.

The case against institutionalization at the Interamerican Court of Human Rights: Patients of Hospital Federico Mora v. Guatemala.

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On June 24, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities participated in a public audience of the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, on the case filed by patients of Federico Mora Hospital in Guatemala v. the State of Guatemala.

In the interactive dialogue, Prof. Quinn explained international standards on non-discrimination and unequal treatment in institutions and the right to live independently and be included in the community, as established by the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. 

The Special Rapporteur explained that segregation into institutions is a form of discrimination under the convention's Article 5. He emphasized that the CRPD is unambiguous in this regard, making no distinction between different sizes of institutions, type of disability or any other circumstance.

He demystified the notion of ‘progressive achievement’ inherent in its Article 19, making clear that downsizing from large institutions to smaller ones does not amount to ‘progressive realization.’

Through examples, he illustrated different experiences demonstrating that inclusion in the community is taking place in many parts of the world, and that financial resources aren’t necessarily an excluding factor for less wealthy nations.

In his multiple participations, he unpacked the purpose of Article 19 of the CRPD, stressing on the positive effect of persons with disabilities flourishing in their own homes and in the community. 

A ruling on the case is not expected for some months.

View the full public audience