Justice Systems and Legal Capacity

This page features disability news on Justice Systems and Legal Capacity from the Debrief Library. See also news on other subjects.


A review on corruption and the equal enjoyment of rights for persons with disabilities:

“People with disabilities are exposed to abuse by those that provide care, the embezzlement of funds intended to benefit persons with disabilities and extortion in the process of acquiring a disability certificate. [...] This impact of this corruption is caused, enabled or exacerbated by discrimination against persons with disabilities.“ (Apr, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre)

Evidence brief on promoting effective implementation of legal capacity as outlined in Article 12 of the UN CRPD in LMICs. "Reforms for legal capacity do not engage a wide variety of stakeholders, and instead tend to reinforce existing powers structures" (Jan, Disability Evidence Portal)


Recognising the testimonial competence of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in Southern Africa:

“Lesotho the only country in southern Africa to successfully contest and change the legal position on the testimonial competence of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. As such, the other countries have lessons to learn both from what Lesotho got right and from what it missed. Two lessons in particular can be gleaned from Lesotho’s experience. The first lesson is that upholding testimonial competence requires the recognition of the right to legal capacity. Second, the recognition of the testimonial competence of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities is merely a first step, they also need to be given the support necessary for their effective participation.” (Nov, African Disability Rights Year Book)


Practical Guide for the Establishment of Support for the Exercise of the Legal Capacity of persons with disabilities. Also available in Portuguese and Spanish (links to pdf, OAS)


Detainees with disabilities in 'spiral of hopelessness' “People with disabilities in the criminal justice system feel like they exist in a "black hole" after an international torture prevention body cancelled a visit to Australia.” (Mar, ABC News)

Report outlines framework for supported decision-making for people with cognitive disability. (Jan, Royal Commission)

Study in New South Wales shows that young people with a disability are overrepresented in the youth justice system: "Factors such as age of initial engagement with disability-related services, remoteness of residence, and frequency of child protection contact were strongly associated with the likelihood of a young person with disability having criminal justice contact before the age of 18". (Jan, NSW BOSCAR)

Trapped, stripped of assets, and silenced. And it’s all perfectly legal photo-essay feature on challenging public guardianship. (Mar, ABC News)


Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur, condemns detention and ill-treatment of Dr Abduljalil al Singace (Apr, Gerard Quinn)


Mobilizing Disabled Peoples’ Organizations to Implement Bangladesh’s Disability Law (Yes, the Journal of Human Rights Practice has a paywall oh dear, Jan, Journal of Human Rights Practice)

Participation of People with Disability Program resources for disabled people's organizations to implement the UNCRPD. (Jan, Disability Bangladesh)


A new book Disability Injustice - Confronting Criminalization in Canada "Ableism is embedded in Canadian criminal justice institutions, policies, and practices, making incarceration and institutionalization dangerous – even deadly – for disabled people." Edited by Kelly Fritsch, Jeffrey Monaghan and Emily van der Meulen (Feb, UBC Press)


Study on Access to Justice for Persons With Disabilities in CARICOM Countries Published. See also part 2. (links to pdf, Dec, Improved Access to Justice in the Carribean)


Documentary on law 1996 of 2019: “a path to equality”. The development and first three years of a law promoting legal capacity of persons with disabilities. (Oct, Paiis Uniandes)


Criminal justice in Ghana as experienced by people with disabilities: “we found that the criminal justice system was unfriendly toward persons with disabilities due to factors such as lack of funds, inaccessible physical environments, language and communication barriers, and negative attitudes toward persons with disabilities” (Apr, Journal of Human Rights)


The right for all persons to decide over their own lives. (In Spanish, Feb, Yo También)

Manual on Justice and Persons with Disabilities a reference for judges and others in the legal system to apply a rights-based approach to disability. See also a launch event on youtube. (in Spanish, Dec, Supreme Court)


Soldiers handcuff and arrest intellectually disabled teen (13) for two hours, and then arrest two of his relatives and abuse them. (May, B'Tselem)


Singapore executes man on drugs charge, rejecting mental disability plea. (Apr, BBC) UN human rights exerts called for an immediate moratorium on use of the death penalty.

Court upholds death sentence of man with learning disabilities “Outcry over drug smuggling case of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who could be executed in days” (Mar, the Guardian)

Pending Execution Highlights Singapore’s Failures on Disability Rights. "During a hearing on March 1, Singapore’s highest court made clear that Singapore law does not prohibit the execution of people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities." (Mar, Human Rights Watch)

Singapore courts set to consider executions amid fears authorities want to clear backlog Case of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who has learning difficulties, among four to be heard next week (Feb, the Guardian)


CERMI Mujeres awards the best photographs about the difficulties of women with disabilities to access justice. (In Spanish., Nov, CERMI Mujeres)

Court confirms 14 years in prison for a former political leader for abuse of two persons with disability. (Mar, Eldiaro.)

United Kingdom

No longer free to be Deaf: Cultural, medical and social understandings of d/Deafness in prison: “there is little room for a cultural model of Deafness in prison, and in consequence, prison becomes medically deafening for Deaf prisoners.” (Nov, Disability and Society)

Pushing at the Boundaries of Legal Personhood. “Could we then imagine a framework of legal personhood that recognises persons with removeable parts?” (Jun, Frontiers of Sociolegal Studies)

United States

For Deaf People in Prison, FCC Mandates Videophone Call Access. (Mar, The Marshall Project)

Will shock treatment finally be banned? “The fact that autistic students are still being shocked at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center is unconscionable.” (Jan)

House Approves Ban On Electric Shock Devices For Those With Developmental Disabilities. (Jun, Disability Scoop)

Lawsuit argues the Americans with Disabilities Act should apply to transgender rights (May, Washington Post)

A discussion about the relationships between law, political economy and disability (LPE Project)

Discussion on When an Intellectual Disability Means Life or Death revisiting the case of Pervis Payne and how a disability claim reduced his death sentence to life in jail after over 30 years. (Jan, Undark)