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Peruvians with Disabilities Left Behind Ahead of Forthcoming Elections

wheelchair user

Thousands of Peruvian citizens with disabilities who had previously been under legal guardianship by courts have not been included on the national voting registry in time to vote in the January 26, 2020 congressional elections in Peru the Society and Disability (SODIS), Peruvian Down Syndrome Society, and Human Rights Watch said.

In 2018, Peru adopted a landmark law, that abolishes guardianship and recognises that people with disabilities are entitled to rights on an equal basis with everyone else. There is no legal reason not to include people with disabilities on the voter registry, the groups said.

“It is disgraceful that despite the 2018 reforms abolishing the guardianship system, thousands of Peruvians with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities previously under guardianship remain excluded from the electoral register,” said Pamela Smith, SODIS executive director. “Voting is the right and civic duty of every Peruvian, and discrimination cannot be tolerated.”

Because the electoral register for the January 26 elections is closed, people with disabilities who were under guardianship and were excluded from the registry cannot be added at this stage. But they must be added for Peru’s general elections in 2021. Before 2018, as was the case in many counties, Peruvians with disabilities, and in particular people with intellectual and psychosocial – or mental – disabilities, were routinely not trusted to or deemed incapable of making decisions. A system of guardianship allowed judges and other government officials to strip people with disabilities of their right to make the most basic choices about their lives.

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