Promoting international and comparative law and aging around the world.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Success to the MDAC Mental Disability Advocacy Center regarding Guardianship
Russian Constitutional Court criticises
"abusive" guardianship law
Petersburg (Russia) and Budapest (Hungary), 28 June 2012. In a case
initiated by MDAC, the Russian Constitutional Court yesterday quashed as
unconstitutional the lack of alternatives to plenary guardianship. An
estimated 300,000 people are currently under guardianship, all stripped of
their personhood and of their legal rights. The Court ordered the
parliament to enact a new law which better respects people's
1982, Irina Delova has lived in "Social Care Institution No. 3"
in St. Petersburg. With almost 1,100 it is one of the largest institutions
in Russia. Until 2010 she had managed her own money, but the institution
wanted to control it. They applied to a district court which deprived Ms
Delova of her legal capacity. The institution became her guardian and she
was not allowed to access her own money. At the district court hearing,
psychiatrists testified that Ms Delova was able to manage her money for
every-day purposes, but she needed some support for more complex transactions.
Constitutional Court has taken an important step in recognising the
obvious: that the law should provide alternatives to Irina Delova, as it
should to everyone else: stripping personhood and dignity should never be
lawful," said Oliver Lewis, MDAC Executive Director. "We call on
the Federal Government and members of the Duma to abolish plenary
guardianship altogether, and introduce supported decision-making, in
accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities."
deprivation of legal capacity is the only measure available in Russian law
to enable people with disabilities to make decisions. MDAC has been
campaigning for reform of the law since launching a report on
guardianship and human rights in Russia in 2007. In 2010 the European Court
of Human Rights started to chip away at the system in the case of
Shtukaturov v. Russia. In a separate case brought on Mr. Shtukaturov's
behalf, the Constitutional Court struck down numerous procedural aspects of
Russian guardianship law which were implemented through legislative
amendments in 2011. However, until now, the substantive guardianship law
had not been judicially criticised.
was represented by Dmitri Bartenev, an attorney practicing in St.
Petersburg who is MDAC's contracted Russian attorney. The case was
supported by MDAC as well as the St. Petersburg NGO "Perspektivy"
and the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia.
on the decision, Dmitri Bartenev said, "This is a historic moment for
Russia in combatting the social exclusion of hundreds of thousands of
people with disabilities. Depriving someone of their legal capacity is
routinely used by family members and local government to then to lock
people up in an institution for the rest of their lives."
make the full text of the decision in Russian available on its website as
soon as it is available and will post an English translation shortly.
MDAC's litigation in Russia has been supported financially by the Open
Society Foundations. MDAC is the only international NGO that challenges
these violations, which would otherwise remain hidden. We need your help to
continue taking cases such as Ms Delova's to court, creating a legal
deterrent to prevent future abuses of this kind. The change MDAC creates is
long-lasting and will ultimately improve the lives of many future
generations of people. Your support is needed because, in all cases, the
clients who we help have no funds, and legal aid is not available to pay
lawyers. To donate, please click here.