Supported Decision Making is a collection of support mechanisms which allow persons in need, to exercise their rights, according to their choice, will and preferences.
Supported Decision Making applies during defined periods of time to specific areas of life, for which a person may have difficulties to cope all alone. It is a key instrument for agency and empowerment, and a safeguard mechanism against subjugation.
Persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities are often placed under guardianship. Although conceived as a means to “protect” them from harm and abuse, the consequences of guardianship are far from freedom, protection or care. Instead, guardianship mechanisms overrule the person’s wishes and preferences, and severely limit basic rights. Persons under most guardianship systems:
- have no right to decide where to live or what to do with their money, while others have the power to shape their lives according to their judgment and interest;
- are deprived of the right to marry or form a family;
- in many cases are forced by their relatives to live in institutions for the rest of their life.
Guardianship often results in social exclusion, torture and humiliation, violence and multiple forms of abuse in the community and in institutions.
At a meeting of the Council of Ministers of Bulgaria at the end of July the draft law for Individuals and Supported Decision Making was introduced for a vote in the National Assembly, in response to Bulgaria’s international commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by the country in 2012. The bill is the result of the activities of an expert working group at the Ministry of Justice and the longstanding efforts of organizations representing people with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems across the country.
For more information on the advocacy to overturn guardianship laws in Bulgaria, visit: http://equalrights.bcnl.org/