Validity Foundation - Mental Disability Advocacy Centre

Innovating European lawyers to advance the rights of children with disabilities

By Barbara Mehes 30th October 2017


Children with mental disabilities, including those with intellectual and psycho-social (mental health) disabilities are perhaps one of the most marginalised groups in the European Union, frequently overlooked by policy-makers, lawyers, judges and broader society. Through research, Validity (formerly MDAC) and our partners have found that children with disabilities experience multiple barriers to accessing justice at all stages criminal, civil and administrative justice systems. These children often face disabling barriers and have enhanced vulnerability to human rights violations, yet few justice professionals have the knowledge or skills necessary to provide quality legal representation.

Beginning in 2016, Validity and partners across the European Union began the development of a specialist training course for legal professionals to enhance their ability to provide proper representation for children who are victims of multiple human rights violations, including institutionalisation, denial of inclusive education, abuse and ill-treatment. The training course was first piloted in Warsaw in collaboration with the Hesinki Committee for Human Rights, and was subsequently provided to almost 150 legal professionals across eight EU countries.

The materials have now been translated into eight European languages and are made available here free of charge. As a result of national seminars, groups of lawyers and other professionals have also developed national legal innovation strategies, each of which sets out key human rights issues faced by children with mental disabilities in each country and which sets out strategies for enhancing access to justice.

Training Materials

National Legal Innovation Strategies

Promising Practices and Evaluation

  • International best practices: English
  • External evaluation: English
EU Emblem Co-funded by the European Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union. This publication has been produced with the support of the European Union within the framework of the project “Innovating European lawyers to advance the rights of children with disabilities” (project number: JUST/2014/RCHI/AG/PROF/7362). The contents of this publication can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.

The outputs of this project were originally published here.