Reversing hard won victories in the name of human rights: a critique of the General Comment on Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Author: 
Melvyn Colin Freeman, Kavitha Kolappa, Jose Miguel Caldas de Almeida, Arthur Kleinman, Nino Makhashvili, Sifi so Phakathi, Benedetto Saraceno, Graham Thornicroft
Publication date: 
6 July 2015

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a major milestone in safeguarding the

rights of persons with disabilities. However, the General Comment on Article 12 of the CRPD threatens to undermine

critical rights for persons with mental disabilities, including the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of

health, access to justice, the right to liberty, and the right to life. Stigma and discrimination might also increase. Much

hinges on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ view that all persons have legal capacity at all

times irrespective of mental status, and hence involuntary admission and treatment, substitute decision-making, and

diversion from the criminal justice system are deemed indefensible. The General Comment requires urgent

consideration with the full participation of practitioners and a broad range of user and family groups.