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AAPD to Present 2008 Henry B. Betts Award to International Human Rights Disability Advocate Eric Rosenthal
Date:12/19/2007

igenous people. He observed the dehumanization of people held naked and in filth in psychiatric facilities and brought this to the attention of international human rights groups, who were uninterested. In response, Rosenthal established Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) in 1993.

MDRI's reports have been the first to bring widespread recognition that the discrimination and abuse of people with disabilities constitutes a violation of international human rights law. The United Nations recently adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in no small part due to Rosenthal's role promoting disability rights as human rights.

In Uruguay, Hungary, Russia, Armenia, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Turkey, Romania, Argentina, and most recently, Serbia, MDRI has drawn international attention to horrendous conditions, helped change government policies, and supported grassroots organizing around disability rights. Rosenthal documents and effectively fights human rights abuses, and has won precedent-setting legal victories before international tribunals and brought support to people with mental disabilities to fight for their own rights in these and more than 23 countries. In Paraguay, for instance, MDRI won a decision from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordering the release of two boys with autism held naked in isolation cells for years, and Paraguay entered into a settlement with MDRI to deinstitutionalize its national mental health system. Through the leadership of MDRI's Associate Director, Laurie Ahern, MDRI is working with the President of Kosovo to close Shtime Institution, Kosovo's psychiatric facility, and create a community support system built on the leadership of local disability activists. This model reform would make Kosovo the first region in Central/Eastern Europe to end the segregation of people with mental disabilities.

"Eric Rosenthal's work has been revolutionary," says Alison A. Hillman de Vel
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SOURCE American Association of People With Disabilities
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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