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Dear Readers, 

Welcome to this edition of our newsletter, which aims to give you an insight into MDAC's activities during the period October to December 2009. In this edition you can read about our activities before the courts, and the United Nations, including the UN Human Rights Committee and the newly-established Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We also present various domestic and international events and initiatives in which MDAC has participated.  You can also read about upcoming events such as the MDAC summer school, and learn about a national honour bestowed upon one of MDAC's staff. This time there is a web interface for the newsletter which you can see here. Read more.

Before the Court


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On 10 November 2009, MDAC lawyers represented two Bulgarian applicants in the first social care institution cases to come before the European Court of Human Rights.  Read more.


MDAC lodged a third party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in a Polish case on institutionalisation and deprivation of legal capacity.  Read more.

Recent Decisions

Victory before the Bulgarian equality body: In November, a group of parents of children with intellectual disabilities, represented by MDAC's Bulgarian partner, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, won a case against the Ministry of Education for discrimination against children with special educational needs. Read more.

For the first time, the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic has said that the deprivation of legal capacity is "constitutionally problematic" and is a "relic of the old regime", incompatible with a modern democratic system. Read more.

A recent decision of the Tallinn Circuit Court in Estonia reinforces the right to legal capacity of persons with disabilities and warns against arbitrary deprivation of legal capacity by courts. Read more.

Disability Advocates Inc v. Paterson, litigating institutionalisation in the United States: an interview with Ira Burnim, Legal Director of Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and member of MDAC's Legal Advisory Network.  Read more.

Gábor Gombos

MDAC congratulates its Senior Advocacy Officer, Gábor Gombos, who on 3 December 2009, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary in recognition of his work in the field of human rights of persons with disabilities. Read more.


CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS! Summer School on "Mental Disability Law in Practice", 19-30 July 2010, Budapest. Deadline for applications 15 February! Read more.

MDAC's Executive Director teaches a course in a distance learning Diploma in Mental Health Law and Human Rights organised by the Indian Law Society and the World Health Organization. Read more

International Advocacy & Policy

In October 2009, MDAC advocated before the UN Human Rights Committee, which subsequently called on Russia to reform its guardianship laws and to ensure human rights for people with disabilities. Its Concluding Observations on Russia are the Committee's most comprehensive analysis of the right to legal capacity under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Read more.

On 21 October 2009, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities devoted their first "day of general discussion" on the right to legal capacity. Read more.

Implementing the right to education of children with intellectual disabilities: One year after the decision of the European Committee for Social Rights in MDAC v. Bulgaria'. 'On 3 November, MDAC and the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee hosted a roundtable which was attended by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and sixty others. Read more.

Advocacy in the Czech Republic: MDAC and the Czech League of Human Rights organised a conference in Brno addressing different issues of capacity assessment in the Czech Republic and other European countries. Read more.

Africa: In September 2009, MDAC participated in a disability rights workshop organised by the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (SADPD) in Cape Town, South Africa. As MDAC is seeking to expand its programming into Africa, the workshop provided MDAC's Policy and Advocacy Officer, Eyong Mbuen, an opportunity to reflect upon the challenges to implementing the CRPD in the continent. Read more.

The World Health Organization is seeking stronger commitment from European governments to improve the health of children with intellectual disabilities. Read more.

In November 2009, MDAC attended a consultation meeting organised by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency.  Read more.  

Law Reform

Challenges in implementing the Civil Code in Hungary which changed the face of legal capacity. Read more.


MDAC introduces human rights to the Eastern European Psychiatric Congress in October 2009 in Moscow, Russia. Read more.


MDAC seeks a Legal Officer (Legal Capacity) and a Policy and Advocacy Officer (Detention monitoring). Application deadlines are 15 February 2010. Read more.

MDAC seeks a Hungarian Business/Finance Expert to serve on the Board. Application deadline 10 March 2010. Read more.

MDAC wishes to thank all our supporters without whom our work would not be possible.  In particular, we wish to thank the Open Society Institute - Budapest, Zennström Philanthropies, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Civil Rights Defenders (formerly Swedish Helsinki Committee), the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Norwegian EEA/EFTA Financial Mechanism with the Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation and its partners.

MDAC also extends its gratitude to each and every individual donor for their generous contributions.

Please continue to support us by making a contribution here. If you are a UK taxpayer you can make a GiftAid donation via that website too.