Amicus Brief on Protecting Mentally Disabled Respondents


Human Rights Watch and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP recently filed an amicus brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals in the case of an alien with a mental disability. The brief is based on a year-long, joint investigation by HRW and the American Civil Liberties Union concerning violations of the rights of people with mental disabilities in the U.S. immigration system. The report is called Deportation by Default: Mental Disability, Unfair Hearings, and Indefinite Detention in the US Immigration System.

Our view of the mentally ill continues to evlove, but we've still got a way to go.

In the amicus brief, HRW argues that all respondents in immigration and removal proceedings, including those with mental disabilities, are entitled to a fair hearing and a chance to defend their rights. From the brief:

“‘The [incompetency] doctrine [where a defendant can not stand trial if he can't comprehend the charges against him, can't effectively consult with counsel, and can't assist in his defense] . . . has been characterized by the Supreme Court as ‘fundamental to an adversary system of justice.’” Removal proceedings must respect human rights, honor U.S. human rights commitments, and ensure fair and accurate decision-making. A fair hearing is central to the protection of a person’s rights and is the hallmark of a functioning justice system.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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