Council of Europe Recommendation on the Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe last week adopted a Recommendation that seeks to increase the participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life at all levels − local, regional, national and international.  The Recommendation is available here.  Between 80 – 100 million persons with disabilities live in the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe.  The Council of Europe noted that persons with disabilities often do not take part in the decision-making process as they face legal, physical, and societal barriers to participating. Through this Recommendation the Committee of Ministers seek to challenge this exclusion. The Recommendation aims to remove barriers and create conditions for active citizenship, without discrimination, for all and in all life settings. The Recommendation stresses that all persons with disabilities are entitled to express their views and should not be deprived of their right to vote or stand for election on the basis of disability.  This is a very progressive statement from the Committee of Ministers and goes some way towards countering the repressive position of the European Commission for Democracy Through Law (the Venice Commission) regarding the eligibility of persons with intellectual disability to stand for election and vote.   The Venice Commission in its“Interpretative Declaration to the Code of Good Practice In Electoral Matters on the Participation of People with Disabilities in Elections” stated:

Continue reading “Council of Europe Recommendation on the Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities”

Council of Europe Recommendation on the Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities

Disability cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights

At a workshop on the rights of persons with disabilities with national human rights structures (ombudsman offices and national human rights institutions) in the Council of Europe in Kiev in May, two cases currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights were brought to my attention. The first case, Gauer v France, relates to the sterilisation of young women with disabilities, and the second case, RP v UK, concerns the removal of a child with physical disabilities from the care of its mother (a young woman with intellectual disability) without her consent to the adoption of the child. Continue reading “Disability cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights”

Disability cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 21st birthday

Today the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its 21st birthday. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 was a pioneering law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and enshrined in law the concept of equality for persons with disabilities and it has been hugely influential in shaping anti-discrimination law across the world. The ADA represented a significant landmark in the disability rights movement, it was the culmination of a civil society movement across the United States that fought hard to remove barriers that prevented persons with disabilities participating within their communities and society.  The ADA has a wide-ranging scope extending to state and local governments, employers, and to the public and private spheres in the supply of goods and services.  Not to overstate the point but the ADA went beyond the traditional concepts of anti-discrimination law in enshrining the concept of reasonable accommodation in the legislation. Reasonable accommodation requires the removal of barriers that restrict Continue reading “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 21st birthday”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 21st birthday

An Overview of the Harvard NUI Galway CRPD Summer School

Last week the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway and the Harvard Law School Project on Disability ran a Summer School entitled “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – From Paper Rules to Action”.  This blog post provides a brief outline of some of the themes that emerged.   See here for a more detailed account of proceedings.  The Summer School aims to introduce participants to the nature of the Convention, the treaty interpretation in general, the general concept of equality in the convention (and some of the relevant innovations in the CRPD) and other issues. More information on the Summer School is available: here. The Faculty includes senior academics, practitioners and Continue reading “An Overview of the Harvard NUI Galway CRPD Summer School”

An Overview of the Harvard NUI Galway CRPD Summer School

Resourcing Independent Living: Universal Access and Personal Supports

We are delighted to welcome another guest post from Noelin Fox.  Noelin is a Ph.D candidate in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway.  Her research examines the right to independent living provided for in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of with Disabilities. Noelin has worked for many years in intellectual disability services’ in Ireland, her previous blog can be seen here.

A proposal by Birmingham City Council to limit the provision of direct support to disabled people with ‘critical’ need only was ruled to be unlawful by the High Court in May this year. The judgment is available here. This was on the basis that the policy failed to give ‘due regard’ to the impact of the proposals on disabled people as required by Section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (as amended in 2005).  Section 49A stipulates that Continue reading “Resourcing Independent Living: Universal Access and Personal Supports”

Resourcing Independent Living: Universal Access and Personal Supports

Centre for Disability Law & Policy NUI Galway & Harvard Law School Project on Disability to Hold Summer School in June

The Centre for Disability Law & Policy and the Harvard Law School Project on Disability will hold a six-day Summer School from 6 – 11 June in Galway.  Information on how to register for the Summer School is available here.   The Summer School aims to equip participants with the insights and skills necessary to translate the generalities of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into tangible reform for persons with disabilities.   The participants will include persons with disabilities, their families, civil society groups of persons with disabilities as well as advocates for disability law reform, lawyers, policy makers and policy analysts and others.   The Faculty includes senior academics, practitioners and policy makers from around the world who have been directly and actively engaged in drafting and implementing the Convention and includes Human Rights in Ireland’s Dr Eilionoir Flynn.  The Faculty also includes Professor Michael Stein (Harvard Law School Project on Disability), Professor Gerard Quinn (NUI Galway, Ireland), Michael Bach (Inclusion International), Eric Rosenthal (Disability Rights International), Andrea Coomber (Interights, London), Gauthier de Beco (Associate Researcher at University of Louvain), Christian Courtis, (Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights), Sir Michael Wood Continue reading “Centre for Disability Law & Policy NUI Galway & Harvard Law School Project on Disability to Hold Summer School in June”

Centre for Disability Law & Policy NUI Galway & Harvard Law School Project on Disability to Hold Summer School in June

EU ratification of Disability Treaty sends strong signal to member states

A number of recent actions at European regional level will contribute significantly to the promotion and protection of the rights of Europe’s 80 million disabled citizens. In late December 2010, the European Union ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). By doing so, the EU has become the first intergovernmental organization to sign on to any human rights treaty and take on its binding obligations. The CRPD’s ratification by the EU has received a warm welcome by disability and human rights groups. Shantha Rua Barriga, Disability rights researcher with Human Rights Watch describes is as “a clear message that disability rights are a priority in the region  and worldwide”, see here. The European Disability Forum, a European platform on disability hailed it as an historic landmark and “a major policy shift in putting disability on top of the human rights agenda”, see here.

Ratifying the Convention obliges the various institutions of the European Union to protect the rights of people with disabilities. While, it obliges its institutions such as the Parliament and the court of Justice, individual member states of the EU still must ratify the Convention domestically. To-date, 16 EU member states have ratified and there are 11 EU member states who have not ratified but have signed. For an up to-date list of countries who have signed/ratified the Convention, see here.
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EU ratification of Disability Treaty sends strong signal to member states

Why Disabled People and Their Families Fear The December Budget?

The financial crisis on a global and domestic scale is impacting on people with disabilities in many areas of life, most notably through reduced governments budgets translating into reduction of essential services. Posts featured earlier this year on Human Rights in Ireland, see here highlighted the impact of these government cuts thus far and the fears of disability organisations and people with disabilities and their families as to what lies ahead.

Ireland for the past 10 years has been hailed as a success story particularly in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. While we watch wistfully as our economic independence is removed from us, one cannot help think where was its innovation and entrepreneurship in creating a better Ireland for its disabled citizens? For the most part, people with disabilities in Ireland did not enjoy the success of the of our “Celtic tiger era” and continued to face persistent high unemployment rates and be at risk of poverty.[1] For example employment rates for people with disabilities published in the CSO Equality in Ireland report 2006[2] found that 26.8% of disabled males were in employment while 16% of disabled females were in employment. Further research carried by the Conference of Religious of Ireland, see here found that over 34.5% of those who are disabled or long term ill are at a risk of poverty. The figure 34.5% was actually an increase on the figure 29.5% which was reported in  1994. While the increase might be only 5%, it is important to highlight it happened against the backdrop of Ireland’s growth years when employment opportunities were plentiful and poverty rates were dropping.
Continue reading “Why Disabled People and Their Families Fear The December Budget?”

Why Disabled People and Their Families Fear The December Budget?

New Zealand Strengthens its Monitoring Framework for Disability Rights

New Zealand’s Minister for Disability Issues Tariana Turia recently announced a range of measures to promote, protect and monitor the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD) (see here). The measures announced included the establishment of a full-time Disability Rights Commissioner within New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission; a protection and monitoring role for the Office of the Ombudsman and the resourcing of a formalised role for disabled people’s organisations. It is expected that the Human Rights Commission will take responsibility for promoting the rights of people with disabilities, and the Office of the Ombudsman will undertake a protection and monitoring role. Continue reading “New Zealand Strengthens its Monitoring Framework for Disability Rights”

New Zealand Strengthens its Monitoring Framework for Disability Rights

The 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act: The Limits of Anti-Discrimination Law

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 20th Anniversary was celebrated on the 26th of July last.  The ADA represents a significant landmark in the disability rights movement.  It was the culmination of a civil society movement across the United States that fought hard to remove barriers that prevented persons with disabilities participating within their communities and society.  The independent living movement that challenged the institutionalisation of persons with disabilities; the families of children with disabilities who challenged their segregation and isolation; and military veterans with disabilities formed part of a movement that made the ADA possible.  For a history of the ADA see the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund (DREDF) website here. The Act was revolutionary in prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability.  It has a wide-ranging scope extending to state and local governments, employers, public and private transportation, public accommodations and to the telecommunications sector.  It is not overstating the importance of the legislation to say that the ADA was radical.  However, it was only radical “in comparison to a shameful history of outright exclusion and segregation of people with disabilities” see DREDF link above. Continue reading “The 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act: The Limits of Anti-Discrimination Law”

The 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act: The Limits of Anti-Discrimination Law