MENTAL DISABILITY RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL (MDRI)
“Established in 1933, MDRI documents conditions, publishes reports on human rights enforcement, and promotes international oversight of the rights of people with mental disabilities.” (MDRI Website, http://www.mdri.org/aboutus/index.htm, accessed on 5 March 2008)
According to MDRI’s Mission Statement „MDRI is dedicated to promoting the human rights and full participation in society of people with mental disabilities worldwide“ (MDRI Website, http://www.mdri.org/aboutus/Mission.htm, accessed on 5 March 2008).
MDRI was founded by Eric Rosenthal as a joint project of the Washington College of Law and the Bazelon Centre for Mental Health Law (USA). It is a non-governmental organisation based at the American University in Washington, DC (American University Washington College of Law Website, Human Rights Brief A Legal Resource for the International Human Rights Community, Vol.1 Nr.1, 1994, http://www.wcl.american.edu/hrbrief/01/1mateen.cfm, accessed on 5 March 2008).
Governments, policy makers, NGOs, public.
MDRI’s objective is to bring international attention to the human rights concerns of people with mental disabilities, to advocate for their rights and to bring about needed reforms.
“[…] MDRI documents conditions, publishes reports on human rights enforcement, and promotes international oversight of the rights of people with mental disabilities. Drawing on the skills and experience of attorneys, mental health professionals, human rights advocates, people with mental disabilities and their family members, MDRI trains and supports advocates seeking legal and service system reform and assists governments to develop laws and policies to promote community integration and human rights enforcement for people with mental disabilities. The organization is forging new alliances throughout the world to challenge the discrimination and abuse faced by people with mental disabilities, as well as working with locally based advocates to create new advocacy projects and to promote citizen participation and human rights for children and adults.” (MDRI Website, http://www.mdri.org/mdri-mission.html, accessed on 20 May 2008)
Projects realised by MDRI are funded by various foundations, such as the Open Society Institute, the Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the John Merck Fund, the Overbook Foundation, the Foundation of Philanthropic Funds, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as well as donations from a number of individuals and other grants (eg grants from the Academy for Educational Development through a New Voices Fellowship)(see “acknowledgments” in several MDRI reports).
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: Reports on countries where MDRI conducted investigatory missions; until now MDRI published reports on Uruguay, Hungary, the Russian Federation, Mexico, Kosovo, Peru, Romania, Turkey, Argentina and Serbia.
Thematic focus: All forms of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other abuses committed against disabled people, including physical and sexual violence, acts causing mental distress, dangerous and life threatening physical conditions, injuries from unjustified medication, inappropriate electric shock treatment, abuse by other patients, staff or others, arbitrary detention, lack of due process and protection.
Investigations and monitoring of abuses and documentation of conditions in psychiatric institutions; disclosure of human rights violations against people with mental disabilities.
MDRI teams are sent to selected countries to visit public and private psychiatric facilities, speak with staff, patients and local institutions and organisations, and to examine conditions in such facilities in order to find out how disabled people are treated. Human rights violations are documented and published in reports summarising the findings.
Investigations are carried out with the help of local institutions and NGOs.
The purpose of MDRI publications is to raise awareness of abuses and treatment of disabled patients in psychiatric facilities and to create pressure to reform local mental health care systems (see different MDRI reports).
Reports are published on an irregular basis after an investigatory mission to a particular country is completed and after all the findings are properly documented and assessed.
Every report is published in English. Almost all of the reports are also published in the language of the country concerned.
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