Organizations Urge the Creation of Community-Based Mental Health Care Model that Ensures the Rights of Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities

Publish Date: 
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Subtitle - Disappearance of Luis Eduardo Guachalá Chimbó in Ecuador illustrates need for reform that ensures deinstitutionalization

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. The ESCR-Net secretariat provided coordination for the filing in the case of Guachalá Chimbó and Others vs. 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. 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.

In the face of the violations in the case and Ecuador’s legislative and policy failures to comply with the duty to adopt domestic legal measures and guarantees of economic, social, and cultural rights to the maximum of available resources, the amicus brief urges the Court to order structural effective non-repetition measures to transform this reality.

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