Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Measures Recognizing the Legal Capacity of People with Disabilities in Peru

October 2, 2018

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the measures taken by the state of Peru to acknowledge the legal capacity of all people with disabilities and implement the legal concept of support and safeguards for them. The IACHR urges Peru to implement such measures as will allow people with disabilities to live on an equal basis with other people and to fully exercise their rights.

Through legislative decree no. 1384, published on September 4, 2018, in the official gazette, a series of modifications were made to Peru’s Civil Code that include the recognition that people with disabilities have full legal capacity and the concept of support and safeguards. Based on the implementation of the concepts of support and safeguards, people with disabilities can decide themselves if they wish to use a support system to exercise their rights without this implying at any time that decisions can be taken that are against their will. This decree is the outcome of joint work between the government of Peru, civil society, academia, and international human rights organizations.

In the IACHR’s view, acknowledging that people with disabilities have full legal capacity implies recognizing that they are entitled to the same rights as people without disabilities and that they have the power to choose how to live their lives. Through this modification, people with disabilities will be able to decide on fundamental aspects of their lives, such as whether or not to undergo medical treatments, get married, or have children. Prior to these modifications, these rights were restricted by the concept of interdiction and the appointment of guardians.

The IACHR held a public consultation to draft the working plan for the Unit on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru on June 22, 2018. Those who took part in the event informed the IACHR that one of the greatest obstacles to exercising and enjoying their rights that people with disabilities faced was the legal confusion over mental capacity and legal capacity.

Commissioner Joel Hernández García, rapporteur for Peru, noted that “The reforms that Peru has made to its legislation to improve the rights of people with disabilities are a major step toward providing better protection for a historically vulnerable group of people. These reforms would remove the main legal obstacle to people with disabilities being able to freely exercise their rights on equal terms with any other person, but it is also important for us to eliminate social and de facto barriers. This is why the swift implementation of these reforms is essential if we are to move toward guaranteeing that people with disabilities can fully enjoy their rights on equal terms with people without disabilities.”

IACHR president Margarette May Macaulay said that: “It is time for the other countries in the region to adopt the legislative reforms necessary for complying with the standards set out in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Recognizing that people with disabilities have the full capacity to act implies acknowledging that they can participate fully in society and make decisions on their rights, which is a way of making the saying that inspired the convention—“nothing about us without us”—a reality.”

The IACHR also urges more states in the region to include similar measures in their legislation so as to acknowledge and safeguard the rights of people with disabilities, in line with the international obligations that derive from the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (1999) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 216/18