Ecuador - Discrimination and Right to Health Violations Found in the Case Person with Psychosocial Disability

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued a judgment in Guachalá Chimbó and Others vs. Ecuador, finding intersectional discrimination based on disability and class and violations of the right to health, reinforcing its jurisprudence recognizing the justiciability of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights. The Court also ordered legislative reforms to, “fully realize the social model of approaching disability,” and determined standards for the adequate training of healthcare staff, among other measures. The case was litigated by member attorney Mario Melo of the Centro de Derechos Humanos at the Pontificia Universidad Católica (PUCE) in Ecuador.

Mental health care in Ecuador, as in other countries in the region, remains heavily institutionalized and segregated, a system that violates patients’ rights to equality, health, autonomy, life, and personal integrity, and to live independently and in the community. The case of Luis Eduardo Guachalá Chimbó, whose rights were violated at a psychiatric hospital and disappeared, illustrates yet again the failure of mental health care approaches centered on institutionalization.

This past December, Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (CCJ), Centro de Estudios de Derecho, Justicia y Sociedad (Dejusticia), Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD), Instituto de Estudios Legales y Sociales del Uruguay (IELSUR), and Justiça Global urged in an amicus curiae brief that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights order structural reparations to secure the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities via the implementation of community-based mental health care models in Ecuador. As argued by the amici, segregated mental health care is inherently discriminatory against persons with psychosocial disabilities and enables torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. It also does not fulfill States’ elevated duty of care with regard to mental health care. The ESCR-Net secretariat provided coordination for the amicus in the case.