Thanks to Asociación Guatemalteca para el Síndrome de Down for providing this information.

The current situation

In Guatemala people with Down syndrome have the same rights as established by law, that is so in theory.

The government has never really prioritised the rights of people with disabilities. This is despite having ratified the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. Few changes and advances have been made on this issue.

According to the law, each case must be analysed individually to determine whether persons with disabilities have the capacity to make their own decisions. In most situations, a family member may accompany them when making legal arrangements.

People with Down syndrome have the right to vote. They can also have a bank account in their name.

We are not aware of specific cases of someone with Down syndrome coming to court asking to be allowed to make legal decisions. That may be because they have never been given that option or opportunity.

What needs to change?

What is needed is for people with Down syndrome to live a truly independent life.

They need to develop all their capabilities to the maximum and have the ability to communicate with the people around them.

They should be able to work with families to listen to their needs, desires and opinions.

Although this also applies to all of society.

In our Association we offer different therapies, educational support, information, support to the whole family, advocacy and awareness, etc.

What the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities report says.

Taken from the Concluding observations report, 2016:


  • The Committee notes with concern that a large number of persons with disabilities are subject to total or partial guardianship and therefore deprived of certain rights such as the right to vote, marry, found a family, or manage assets and property. It is also concerned by the fact that the Civil Code provides for the restriction of the legal capacity of persons with disabilities and that, to date, no commitment has been made to bring it into line with the Convention.
  • The Committee is concerned that persons with disabilities who are institutionalized are automatically deprived of their legal capacity, with the director of the institution assuming the role of their guardian from then on. 


  • The Committee recommends that the State party take all appropriate measures to ensure that all persons with disabilities who have been deprived of their legal capacity can exercise all the rights enshrined in the Convention, as indicated in its general comment No. 1 (2014) on equal recognition before the law.
  • The Committee also recommends that the State party repeal the existing systems of total and partial guardianship, under which a person has no or limited legal capacity, and develop systems of supported decision-making to enable and promote the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that all persons with disabilities who continue to be placed in institutions of any kind are not deprived of their legal capacity and are given access to systems of supported decision-making.

Take action.

Contact Asociación Guatemalteca para el Síndrome de Down to support this campaign in your country.