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3 December 2013

Becoming a human rights activist

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, here are my top ten advocacy tips. I shared these with graduating students of an international diploma on mental health and human rights a few weeks ago in India.
12 November 2013

Abandoned with bedbugs in West Bengal

“My father brought me here 16 years ago”, said Sanjaya, a 29-year old woman, in Bengali. Her family appear to have freaked out when, at the age of 13, she started having mental health problems. Instead of getting some support, they dumped her into the Lumbini Park institution, where she was robbed of her youth, her education, and her safety. Detained there for the past 16 years without committing any crime, she was allowed out for a day two years ago. She returned to her family who had abandoned her. “I went and cried. I wanted to stay, but my family didn’t want me”, she told me.
30 October 2013

Girls and women with disabilities have rights too

2,200 people in Moldova are forced to live in 13 psychiatric and social care institutions: from Badiceni to Brinzeni, Balti to Bender, and Tiraspol in the Transnistria region. A third of these people are stripped of their autonomy. They are under guardianship where others control their lives. They are rendered invisible and invalid.
16 October 2013

When will the UN Human Rights Committee focus on disability rights?

The UN represents universality and indivisibility of human rights norms. So why is the UN Human Rights Committee ignoring the human rights of people with disabilities?
3 October 2013

“Psycho drama” – how costumes create human rights abuses

A psycho suit is as unacceptable as selling an “Islamic terrorist” outfit, complete with fake beard and machine gun. Both costumes perpetuate stereotypes. Oliver explains why MDAC has raised corporate sales practices with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg - as a human rights issue.
5 September 2013

The Romanian government killed a young man with disabilities. Will it get away with it on a technicality?

OliverTalks - Our Executive Director explains how the Romanian government is attempting to avoid accountability for the death of Valentin Câmpeanu in a psychiatric institution.
3 September 2013

Why should the United States ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?

3 September 2013, Budapest. In his latest post, our Executive Director gives his alternative to Secretary of State John Kerry's speech.
18 July 2013

Using litigation as a strategy to challenge disability and ethnicity discrimination in education

On 17 July 2013, the New York Times published a letter by Dezideriu Gergely (Executive Director of the European Roma Rights Centre) and Oliver Lewis. It concerns the discrimination in education faced by Roma children and children with disabilities in central and eastern Europe.
8 July 2013

Rosenhan revisited

A couple of weeks ago a tribunal in the UK decided that Ian Brady – probably the country’s most famous living killer – should remain in a high-security psychiatric hospital, rather than being sent to a prison as he wanted. Brady’s lawyers argued that he did not have paranoid schizophrenia, and had never been mentally ill since he was jailed for life in 1966. The outcome of the case was that he has to stay in hospital – no surprise there. What I want to concentrate on in this blog post is a miniscule detail of the case.
2 July 2013

Challenging abuse and neglect

Last week we launched our summer appeal, asking for your support to enable us to continue to challenge abuses in eastern Europe. Our appeal was launched the while we had several lawyers from Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Moldova in our office. With top anti-torture lawyer Phillippa Kaufman QC, we were training them on how to challenge ill-treatment through the courts. The training was funded through a $7,500 grant from the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. This is significant in itself, because it demonstrates that this ‘mainstream’ human rights fund now fully recognises that people with disabilities can face discriminatory torture and ill-treatment.

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