Disability Rights Victories of Janos Fiala-Butora, CEU Alumnus (LEGS '04) in the European Court of Human Rights
Janos Fiala-Butora (CEU LEGS ‘04) has several major victories to his name before the ECtHR in cases advancing the rights of people with mental disabilities. Janos appeared as a lawyer in the legal team of the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) representing the applicants. He was also instrumental in bringing the briefs of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability before the ECtHR in three of these landmark cases.
In 2010, Janos successfully challenged the blanked ban on the right to vote for people under guardianship in Kiss Alajos v. Hungary (2010). It was for the first time that the ECtHR required the government to advance “very weighty reasons” to justify measures affecting persons with mental disabilities, a particularly vulnerable group of society.
In 2012 Bures v. Czech Republic (2012) was the first major victory, successfully contesting the indiscriminate use of restraints in psychiatric hospital. Then in Pleso v. Hungary (2012) the Court opened potential new grounds of challenging involuntary hospitalization for persons with mental disabilities. The third victory of 2012, Sykora v. the Czech Republic (2012) concerned the rights and decision-making capacity of persons under guardianship. The ECtHR found that hospitalizing a person with the consent of a court appointed guardian who never met him amounted to unlawful detention. In addition, the Court found that the manner in which the applicant was placed under guardianship violated his right to private life under Article 8.
Janos assessed the significance of the latest decision in the following terms: “This [decision] is very important for persons under guardianship across Europe, because currently their decisions are ignored under the law, which leads to many abuses. And it is important for my thesis as well, as it breaks the presumption that once incapacitated, the person's will does not matter anymore. I argue that it should, in fact I am against incapacitation for this very reason.”
Janos Fiala-Butora is the graduate of the human rights LLM program of CEU Legal Studies and holds an LLM from Harvard Law School (‘10). As a CEU student, he became involved with MDAC in Budapest. Currently he is a doctoral (SJD) candidate at Harvard Law School and an associate of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability. Janos is married to Erika Fiala-Butora (CEU LEGS ‘09). They recently welcomed daughter Abigel to their family.