By María del Socorro Piña Montiel, President of MADIJAL
In April of 2018, the Global Disability RightsNow! project, managed by MIUSA, partnered with our Mexican disability-led organization Movimiento Asociativo Jalicience pro Personas con Discapacidad (MADIJAL) to produce a three day seminar on the rights of Mexican people with disabilities in Jalisco, Mexico. The seminar focused on the theme of “Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities,” inviting a cross-sector audience of persons with and without disabilities in Jalisco to participate in the training and explore the laws that define the rights of people with disabilities in Mexico.
The RightsNow! project aims to strengthen and enforce laws and public policies for the benefit of persons with disabilities. The project encourages building lasting cross-disability coalitions for effective advocacy by and for people with disabilities. MADIJAL’s objective includes leveraging public policies in favor of the full development of the lives of persons with disabilities through a joint effort by the organizations that make up MADIJAL’s association.
Through all three days of the seminar, our expectations were surpassed in terms of attendance and the engagement and creativity that participants showed. 113 attendees participated in the seminar, including people with and without disabilities, lawyers, university representatives, and government officials. Participants expressed their understanding and uncertainties about disability rights under Mexican law and their interest to find the most efficient ways to enforce public policy. During the seminar participants explored solutions to equalize access in the justice system and public services for persons with disabilities to the same extent other citizens are guaranteed.
As a result of the relationship established between RightsNow! and MADIJAL based on our common goals, MADIJAL has had the opportunity to learn more about international regulations, such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and our own national legislation, including:
- the Mexican United States Political Constitution;
- the General Law for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities; and
- the Law for the Inclusion and Integrated Development of People with Disabilities.
During the seminar we discussed mechanisms for enforcing these laws and the rights guaranteed by them. These discussions included examining previous cases of discrimination complaints, how they were prepared, and their outcomes. Afterward, participant discrimination cases were examined and complaints were prepared and filed with Jalisco’s Human Rights Commission.
One presentation initiated a conversation about the obstacles and barriers people with disabilities frequently encounter when trying to obtain public services. These barriers are often rooted in a lack of knowledge or a specific social stigma about certain disabilities. Participants with disabilities had many suggestions for best practices to overcome these barriers, often based on their own personal experiences.
In addition to the topic of discrimination, participants were introduced to the process for establishing legal clinics specialized in dealing with cases of injustice against people with disabilities. Several academics and lawyers who participated in the seminar expressed interest in initiating legal clinics through local Mexican universities.
Now we have a very hopeful view for the future of rights-based legislation enforcement for people with disabilities in Mexico. At a local level, we are close to achieving the outcomes of our research and finding solutions for accessibility in Jalisco, as outlined by Jalisco’s Commission for Human Rights. Next we will follow-up with the progress of the action plans put together by participant groups in the seminar.
We know that we will reach success by continuing to make confident strides at the right moments and continuing to work together towards full inclusion of people with disabilities in Mexico.