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International Human Rights and Mental Disability LawWhen the Silenced are Heard$
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Michael L. Perlin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195393231

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393231.001.0001

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Mental Disability Law in a Comparative Law Context

Mental Disability Law in a Comparative Law Context

(p.43) 3 Mental Disability Law in a Comparative Law Context
International Human Rights and Mental Disability Law

Michael L. Perlin

Oxford University Press

This chapter seeks to answer these questions: To what extent does the body of what we categorize as “international human rights” actually offer protection to persons with mental disabilities? Do the UN conventions, treaties, and other documents sufficiently articulate both the positive and negative rights needed to empower such persons? Will states enforce judgments entered by regional courts? Do the regional courts and commissions take seriously the issues that arise in litigated and contested cases? Do sovereign states take seriously their obligations to enforce the human rights of this all-too-frequently marginalized and hidden population? The chapter looks closely at cases from the United States and from the regional human rights courts and commissions of the world. A relatively recent review article, in discussing the human rights of persons admitted to psychiatric hospitals in South America, characterized the development of human rights protections for such individuals as “one of the great and continuing achievements of the latter part of the twentieth century.” The same article, however, concluded that the countries of the region “have not satisfied their obligations to protect, respect and fulfill the human rights of persons with disabilities, despite human rights instruments recognizing these obligations.” The question to be addressed in subsequent chapters is this: How will future court and commission decisions illuminate the extent of the “real life” impact of the Convention on practice before, and the jurisprudence of, these tribunals?

Keywords:   mental disability law, international human rights law, regional human rights commissions, regional human rights courts, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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