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Bulgaria to ratify UN disabilities treaty

Bulgaria will ratify [Novinite report] the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [text] at the beginning of 2012, a member of the Bulgarian parliament [official website] announced on Sunday. According to Svetlana Angelova [official profile] this ratification will result in several legislation amendments that will ensure that Bulgarian citizens with disabilities are treated as equal citizens and minimize discrimination against them in the area of education, healthcare and environment. Bulgaria was one of the few states that has failed to ratify the UN document and has been criticized for its treatment of disabled people, especially those with mental disabilities. The nation has a pending case in the European Courts of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website], Stanev v. Bulgaria [press release, PDF], contesting the living conditions of state-run facilities for disabled people, as well as a lack of rights for challenging diagnoses and placement. The plaintiff, Roussi Stanev, was interred in a social care home after members of his family requested he be put under state care. Stanev argued before the ECHR that, under current Bulgarian law, it was impossible for him to have his legal capacity restored or rexamined. Angelova guaranteed that after signing the treaty, all laws in Bulgaria will be amended to come into compliance, including the penal code.

The United States signed [press release; JURIST report] the treaty in July of 2009 after US President Barack Obama announced [JURIST report] during a celebration commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 [DOJ materials] that the US would sign the convention. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force [JURIST report] in May of 2008 for the purpose of protecting the 650 million persons living with disabilities worldwide [UN fact sheet] from being discriminated due to their disabilities. The treaty has been signed by 142 members and ratified by 62 after it was opened for signature [JURIST report] in March of 2007. The convention was adopted [JURIST report] by the UN General Assembly in December of 2006 and was hailed as the "first human rights treaty to be adopted in the twenty-first century; the most rapidly negotiated human rights treaty in the history of international law; and the first to emerge from lobbying conducted extensively through the Internet" by then, Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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