Background: The CRPD explicitly stipulates that persons with disabilities have equal human rights. The freedom to make decisions about our lives is a fundamental human right – to choose where and whom to live with, what employment and medical treatment to have, how to manage our own money, etc. Persons with disabilities are no different in this respect. However, some people may need additional support to be able to express their choice. Art.12 of the Convention focuses on the future legal reform of the guardianship and custody institution and the possibility that substituted decision making for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues will be replaced by supported decision making models. The main elements of supported decision making are:
• The person can exercise his/her personal rights independently– i.e. the will of a person cannot be "changed" by the will of another (guardian, custodian, advocate, etc.);
• To adopt an approach that incorporates not only review of the current legislation on guardianship and custody but also of the government policy which stipulates trainings on the application of the Convention and the provision of adequate financial resources to meet all the measures.
Aims: Through the regulation of supported decision-making in Bulgaria what has to be achieved is a clear and accurate application of the CRPD principles for the protection of the rights of people with disabilities and their best interests. Legal reform of the current Bulgarian legislation is also necessary.
The BCNL project should test in practice supported decision making models in Bulgaria and change the legal framework in a way to empower people with mental health issues and intellectual disabilities to exercise their legal capacity to act. Together with our partners - Global Initiative on Psychiatry (GIP), Bulgarian Association of People with Intellectual Disabilities (BAPID) and National Organization of Mental Health Services Users (NOMHU) – we will pilot the supported decision making measures for at least 40 persons with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues in Bulgaria. Our project will focus on the development of a coherent learning process and monitoring on the pilot projects (developed by BAPID, GIP and NOMHU). BCNL will provide permanent legal support to the pilot project teams.
• Establishing a coordination mechanism of the program
• Support to the pilot projects
• Action research and research about the policies and economic effect
• Technical support for the development and adoption of legislation
• Increasing the capacity of the professional groups
• Public awareness and communication
• Knowledge exchange within the study tour
• Public discussions
Timeframe of the project: October 2012 – May 2014.
The project is implemented by: Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law (BCNL) in partnership with Global Initiative on Psychiatry (GIP), Bulgarian Association of People with Intellectual Disabilities (BAPID) and National Organization of Mental Health Services Users (NOMHU).
Financed by: Foundation Open Society Institute, Switzerland