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A Watershed for the Rights of People with Disabilities

In 2019, Peru and Colombia became the first countries to pass legislation to dramatically increase people with disabilities’ freedom to control their own lives by solidifying the right of every person to make their own decisions about important legal matters. In much of the world, however, people with disabilities are routinely denied the ability to vote, open a bank account, sign a contract, get married, or decide where—and with whom—they want to live. They may even be forcibly institutionalized, or medicated against their will.

In late 2019, the Open Society Foundations’ New York office held an event to consider the reforms in Peru and Colombia, and to discuss broader questions of how best to safeguard and expand the rights of people with disabilities. The event featured a panel including Pamela Smith, executive director of Sociedad y Discapacidad, an organization that played an instrumental role in passing reforms in Peru; Karin Liza Gutierrez, an advocate who works with the Peruvian Down Syndrome Society; and Claudia Zapata, who manages community-based psycho-education processes at the Colombia-based Social Agency for Mental Welfare.

Listen to the audio of the event to learn more.

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