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Strengthening Disability Rights Advocacy and Law Capacity in Guatemala


U.S. legal experts join Guatemalan counterparts and disability leaders in Guatemala City for an intensive disability rights training

In May 2017, U.S. disability legal experts traveled to Guatemala City to support and build on the progress made by Disabled Persons’ Organizations (DPOs) and human rights advocates.

A new national disability rights law, Bill 5125, designed to align with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), is currently under amendment by lawmakers in Guatemala. The proposed law, prepared by human rights lawyers, with input from DPOs and groups around the country, is based on recommendations by the 2014 Guatemalan Social Audit Commission on Disability. Guatemala ratified the CRPD in 2009.

During a four-day RightsNow! Training of Trainers, U.S. and local experts used principles of the CRPD and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to:

  • Prepare disability leaders and civil society allies to train other stakeholders on the new law
  • Recognize and apply legal remedies to discriminatory practices.

A one-day intensive training and law clinic for legal professionals and disability leaders also examined how anti-discrimination law cases can be applied to defend disability rights.

RightsNow! worked closely with El Colectivo to conduct the trainings. Colectivo Vida Independiente de Guatemala (El Colectivo) defends and promotes the rights of persons with disabilities in Guatemala, including in the areas of public transportation and access to justice and legal advice for victims of violence.

The training team included:

  • Silvia Yee, Senior Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
  • Claudia Center, Senior Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • Flor de Maria Salazar, Senior Attorney, Association for the Development of Democracy and Law (LEGIS)
  • Silvia Quan, Co-founder, El Colectivo vida Independiente de Guatemala
  • Debbie Sharp, Project Specialist, Mobility International USA (MIUSA)

The RightsNow! project has trained disability leaders, legal professionals, government actors and others in Vietnam, Mexico, Kenya, Armenia, and Peru. Learn more about the RightsNow! project by following us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #RightsNow! and visit the Global Disability Rights Now! website.

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The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange is a project of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, designed to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange between the United States and other countries, and is supported in its implementation by Mobility International USA.

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