Source description last updated: 29 November 2021
In brief: Disability Rights International (DRI) is an independent, non-governmental human rights organization, based in Washington DC, fighting to protect the rights and achieve full social integration of people with disabilities worldwide.
Coverage on ecoi.net:
Selected publications (SR)
Covered quarterly on ecoi.net, for countries of priorities A-C.
“Disability Rights International (DRI - formerly Mental Disability Rights International) is an international human rights organization dedicated to the rights and full participation in society of people with disabilities. DRI documents abuses and promotes international awareness and oversight of the rights of people with disabilities. DRI trains and supports disability rights and human rights activists worldwide to promote rights enforcement and service-system reform.” (Disability Rights International website: Our Reports & Publications: Twice Violated, 2015)
According to its mission statement, “Disability Rights International is dedicated to promoting the human rights and full participation in society of people with disabilities worldwide” (Disability Rights International website: About us, undated) and “to protecting every child’s right to live with loved ones and not be sentenced to a life of inhuman abuse and segregation.” (Disability Rights International website: Jorge’s Story, undated)
“Disability Rights International’s top priority is the Worldwide Campaign to End the Institutionalization of Children” (Disability Rights International website: Our work, undated), which  “seeks to draw attention to, and end, the pervasive and abusive practice of institutionalizing children with disabilities.” (Disability Rights International website: About us, undated)
“Drawing on the skills and experience of attorneys, mental health professionals, human rights advocates, people with disabilities and their family members, Disability Rights International trains and supports advocates seeking legal and service system reform and assists governments in developing laws and policies to promote community integration and human rights enforcement for people with disabilities.” (Disability Rights International website: About us, undated)  
“Disability Rights International has engaged in a multi-year campaign to bring about worldwide recognition that the abuse of children and adults with disabilities can constitute torture through our reports on Turkey, Romania, Serbia, the United States and our litigation against Paraguay in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights”. (Disability Rights International website: International Policy Advocacy, undated)

“Disability Rights International will use the [UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities] as leverage to hold governments and international donors accountable. We will publicize the suffering of the vast numbers of children with disabilities improperly placed in institutions, and we will support the efforts of family members and activists working to bring about needed change.” (DRI website: Our work, undated)

Projects realised by DRI are funded by various foundations such as the Overbrook Foundation, the Holthues Trust, the Open Society Foundations, the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, the Morton and Jane Blaustein Foundation, Ford Foundation, etc. DRI is also supported by their Ambassador Holly Valance and many other individual and foundation donors to DRI (see “acknowledgments” in several MDRI reports).
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: Global.
Thematic focus: Special focus on their campaign ending the institutionalization of children; all forms of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment committed against disabled people, acts causing mental distress, dangerous and life threatening physical conditions, injuries from unjustified medication, abuse by other patients, staff or others, arbitrary detention, lack of due process and protection

“DRI documents abuses and promotes international awareness of the concerns of people with disabilities. […] DRI is based in Washington, DC with regional offices in London, Serbia, and Mexico. […] DRI has investigated human right conditions and collaborated with activists in more than three dozen countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.” (DRI: Serbia’s Forgotten Children, June 2021, title pages)

For instance, the report on “Exclusion of Children and Adults with Disabilities from Reform and Rights Protection in the Republic of Georgia” from 2013 “is the product of extensive fact-finding efforts, in collaboration with a broad array of local government and non-governmental organizations in Georgia, as well as legal, medical, and disability experts from abroad. From July 2010 through September 2013, DRI conducted 6 fact- finding visits to the Republic of Georgia. DRI examined conditions in 10 residential institutions including all state-run baby houses and orphanages for children with disabilities, four social care homes for adults with disabilities and a boarding school for children with disabilities. This report does not examine Georgia’s psychiatric hospitals. DRI engaged the volunteer expertise of a high level group of experts. […]
In every institution we visited, we attempted to be as thorough as we could in understanding the human rights situation of people living in the facility—in many cases, returning to the institution several times. We asked to visit all parts of the institutions. We interviewed institutional authorities, staff and residents. During each site visit, DRI brought a video camera to record observations.” (DRI: Left Behind; The Exclusion of Children and Adults with Disabilities from Reform and Rights Protection in the Republic of Georgia, 2013, p. ii)
The report “Hidden Suffering: Romania’s Segregation and Abuse of Infants and Children with Disabilities” from 2006 “describes the findings of an 18-month investigation in Romania by Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) on the human rights of people with mental disabilities (this is a broad term that includes people with a diagnosis of mental illness and people with an intellectual disability such as mental retardation). This work is the product of visits to Romania in February, June and December 2005 and February 2006. Our visits to adult facilities were conducted jointly with the Center for Legal Resources (CLR). MDRI conducted all site visits to children’s institutions and interviews with child protections authorities on our own.” (DRI: Hidden Suffering; Romania’s Segregation and Abuse of Infants and Children with Disabilities, 2006, p. vii)

Language(s) of publications:
Every report is published in English. Almost all of the reports are also published in the language of the country concerned.
All links accessed 29 November 2021.
Methodological note:
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