The Moldovan Institute for Human Rights (IDOM) monitored the presidential elections of 30 October 2016. Thirty IDOM national observers, accredited by the Central Election Commission, were assigned to 9 institutions (3 psychiatric hospitals and 6 social care houses) to monitor how persons with mental disabilities exercised their right to vote. The observers had been trained in advance regarding the particularities of voting in such institutions, the provisions of the Election Code, and the possibility of persons with disabilities to exercise their right to vote. This action took place under the Project “Monitoring the Observance of the Election Rights of Residents of Psychiatric Institutions and Social Care Houses of Moldova During the 2016 Presidential Elections,” implemented by IDOM, with the financial support of the East European Foundation.

IDOM found that the voting unfolded with irregularities that resulted in low presence/admission to the voting booths of the voters from the six social care houses [1] and three psychiatric hospitals [2].

An example in this sense is the voting held in the Social Care House of Bădiceni, Soroca, where only four residents, out of the total number of 431 registered on 30 Oct 2016, voted. The other residents had a special status mentioned in the database, or there was a court judgment in their regard that declared them incapacitated, and so, they could not exercise their right to vote.

In view of securing the exercise of the election right to persons with intellectual or psycho-social impairments, in October 2017, IDOM lawyers filed two complaints with the court and other two with the Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Assurance of Equality in (CPEDAE), in which IDOM requests these two institutions to find discrimination in exercising the right to vote by the plaintiffs in the presidential elections of 30 Oct 2016 on grounds of disability and of their association with persons with mental disabilities, according to Art.12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

According to Article 12 of the CRPD and General Comment No.1 of the CRPD Committee, the right to legal capacity is a legal construct that recognizes the persons as holders of rights, as persons before the law and that enables them to exercise their rights by making decisions of mandatory character, and that must be respected. The legal capacity must be enjoyed in all aspects of life, from making daily decisions (such as concluding sales and purchase contracts or for selling basic goods and products) up to making decisions about personal relations (marriage, sexual relations and reproduction), career (education and the possibility to conclude work contracts or contracts of commercial character), health (consent to or refusal of medical treatment), participation in political processes (voting, running in elections), and a multitude of other more or less significant decisions. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights describes legal capacity as a concept that goes beyond decision-making: “it is about what it means to be a human being”.

[1] Social Care House (SCH) of Bălți; SCH of Brânzeni, Soroca; SCH of Bădiceni, Edineț; SCH Cocieri, Dubăsari; Boarding School for Children (boys) with Mental Disabilities of  Orhei and the Boarding School for Children (girls) with Mental Disabilities of Hîncești.

[2] Psychiatric Clinical Hospital of Chișinău, Psychiatric Clinical Hospital of Bălți, and the Psychiatric Clinical Hospital of Orhei.

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