Latvia is a small country in northern Europe, which has undergone significant legal reform in the recent past. MDAC has been supporting these initiatives for many years, and it works with NGO partners, predominantly with the Resource Center for People with Mental Disability, ZELDA.


Current situation

In 2010 Latvia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Despite this political commitment, the country has around 2334 people deprived of their autonomy through the law (August 2011 figures). These people are stripped of their right to community living, right to political participation, right to marry and right to access to justice.

In November 2012 the parliament adopted new legal capacity legislation. The new law abolishes plenary guardianship (total removal of rights) and introduces partial guardianship which means that a judge can restrict autonomy in particular areas of life, for example finances. The new law contains some alternatives to guardianship. Despite these developments, supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship is missing from the law.


MDAC activities

In Latvia MDAC concentrates its efforts on the right to legal capacity. MDAC has on several occasions provided technical expertise to the NGO and the governmental sector since 2010. 

A December 2010 judgment of the Constitutional Court declared that plenary guardianship and restriction of a person’s right to initiate a review of their legal capacity were unconstitutional and did not comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Directly following this judgment MDAC provided some training for Latvian NGOs which offered some tools on how to advocate for legislative reform. During 2011 MDAC sent its written comments on the draft legislation, which was amended and became law in November 2012. The new legal capacity legislation removes plenary guardianship. This is significant, as Latvia becomes the second European country (the first being the Czech Republic) to abolish this legal relic. As the law fails to introduce supported decision-making as mandated by international law, MDAC wrote to the Minister of Justice in December 2012 encouraging the government to initiate further reform. 

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