Neglected Citizens? The situation of people with an intellectual disability in residential care

Human Rights in Ireland welcomes this guest post from Jim Winters, Advocacy and Rights Officer, Inclusion Ireland as part of Human Rights Week 2012.

Founded in 1961 Inclusion Ireland is the national organisation advocating for the rights of people with an intellectual disability. Our focus is on the realisation of the core principles and values expressed in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Everyone has the right, including people with an intellectual disability, to a life free from the fear of violence or abuse. We know that people in care are vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Last year almost 10,000 incidents of violence, harassment, aggression or abuse against patients were recorded in Irish hospitals and community healthcare facilities.

One way to protect and promote the rights of people with an intellectual disability in care is to provide for the regulation of residential services.  Regulations describe the essential standards of quality and safety that people in disability services should expect. Services are monitored on their compliance with the regulations.

Inclusion Ireland has been advocating for the introduction of statutory standards and mandatory inspections of residential services for over seventeen years. However, successive governments have failed to take action. Numerous enquires and investigations have highlighted the lack of protection afforded to adults and children with disability in state-funded care. They have not been acted on.

In 2007, the McCoy Report, which investigated past child abuse within the Holy Family School and Brothers of Charity Services in Galway, called for the introduction of standards and inspections of as matter of urgency. In 2009 the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse recommended the introduction of statutory standards and inspections of residential services for children with disabilities.

In 2010 the Irish Human Rights Commission undertook an enquiry into the situation of Continue reading “Neglected Citizens? The situation of people with an intellectual disability in residential care”

Neglected Citizens? The situation of people with an intellectual disability in residential care

Human Rights Organisations Oppose the Forced Sterilisation of Women with Disabilities in France

An alliance of human rights groups has spoken out against the forced sterilisation of women with mental disabilities in France.  See here and here.     Last week the Center for Reproductive Rights, European Disability Forum, Interights, International Disability Alliance and Mental Disability Advocacy Center; submitted written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Gauer and Others v France (Application no 61521/08).  A copy of the written comments is available here.    Gauer and Others v France is a case involving five women with intellectual disabilities who were forcibly sterilised.  The decision of the European Court of Human Rights will be an important statement on the reproductive rights of persons with disabilities and the positive obligations on the States in safeguarding persons with disabilities against abuse.

The European Court of Human Rights has used the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as an interpretive aid to the European Convention on Human Rights and it is clear that the ECHR has been edging closer to the philosophy of legal capacity as set out in Article 12 of the CRPD.  In Shtukaturov v Russia the ECtHR stated “…the existence of a mental disorder, even a serious one cannot be the sole reason to justify full incapacitation”.  This was an important statement by the ECtHR acknowledging that there was a lack of proportionality in the legal response to the person’s capacity in that case.  Moreover, the Shtukaturov decision is important in that ECtHR acknowledges that the deprivation of legal capacity constitutes a serious intrusion into a persons right to respect for their private and family life under Article 8 and domestic legislation has to provide “a tailored-made response” in this area.  So this case will provide an invaluable opportunity for the Court to engage with the CRPD and further develop its jurisprudence on the right to legal capacity.  Other human rights that will be engaged under the European Convention on Human Rights include:

  • Article 3 (prohibition of torture)
  • Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life)
  • Article 13 (right to an effective remedy)
  • Article 14 (Prohibition of discrimination)
Human Rights Organisations Oppose the Forced Sterilisation of Women with Disabilities in France

Constitutionally Enshrined Disability Discrimination in Hungary

The new Hungarian Constitution approved by parliament last month contains provisions that are discriminatory and have been widely criticised by human rights organisations. The new Constitution should enter into force on January 1, 2012. Article XXIII (6) of the new Constitution provides that ”[t]hose deprived of their right to vote by a court by reason of limited mental ability and for a criminal offense shall not have the right to vote.” See here. This provision serves to exclude persons with intellectual disability and or persons with psychosocial disabilities from voting. This is completely at odds with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 29 
of the Convention relates to participation in political and public life and requires that States Parties to the Convention “guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others”. This discriminatory provision is disappointing as Hungary was the first Member State of the European Union to Continue reading “Constitutionally Enshrined Disability Discrimination in Hungary”

Constitutionally Enshrined Disability Discrimination in Hungary

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