Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons

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DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF MENTALLY RETARDED PERSONS

General Assembly of the United Nations

1971

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The following Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 20, 1971. It is a revised and amended version of the Declaration of General and Special Rights of the Mentally Retarded that was adopted in 1968 by the International League of Societies for the Mentally Handicapped.

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  1. The mentally retarded person has, to the maximum degree of feasibility, the same rights as other human beings.
  2. The mentally retarded person has a right to proper medical care and physical therapy and to such education, training, rehabilitation and guidance as will enable him to develop his ability and maximum potential.
  3. The mentally retarded person has a right to economic security and to a decent standard of living. He has a right to perform productive work or to engage in any other meaningful occupation to the fullest possible extent of his capabilities.
  4. Whenever possible, the mentally retarded person should live with his own family or with foster parents and participate in different forms of community life. The family with which he lives should receive assistance. If care in an institution becomes necessary, it should be provided in surroundings and other circumstances as close as possible to those of normal life.
  5. The mentally retarded person has a right to a qualified guardian when this is required to protect his personal well-being and interests.
  6. The mentally retarded person has a right to protection from exploitation, abuse and degrading treatment. If prosecuted for any offence, he shall have a right to due process of law with full recognition being given to his degree of mental responsibility.
  7. Whenever mentally retarded persons are unable, because of the severity of their handicap, to exercise all their rights in a meaningful way or it should become necessary to restrict or deny some or all of these rights, the procedure used for that restriction or denial of rights must contain proper legal safeguards against every form of abuse. This procedure must be based on an evaluation of the social capability of the mentally retarded person by qualified experts and must be subject to periodic review and to the right of appeal to higher authorities.