European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Aisling de Paor, a Ph.D candidate in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, and Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) scholar. Aisling is a graduate of NUI Galway (BCL) and University College Cork (LL.M).  Aisling qualified as a solicitor and specialized primarily in employment law.

On 6th March 2012, Marian Harkin MEP and Phil Prendergast MEP hosted a seminar on the topic of Genetic Discrimination. The event was organised by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway, in conjunction with the European Disability Forum, and took place in the European Parliament, Brussels. This international seminar, which was chaired by Andre Gubbels (Belgian Ministry), was the first of its kind in the European Parliament and brought together a diverse range of leading experts in the area, with the objective of exploring the case for a European level response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination. The seminar highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of this area and focused on the interaction between genetic science, technology, ethics and the law, and in particular, how best to address this complex area. The event also looked at the challenges and practical problems that arise when attempting to Continue reading “European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination”

European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination

World Mental Health Day

Today in World Mental Health Day – and it provides us in Ireland with a lot to think about in terms of the way in which mental health services are provided and how our mental health laws are constituted.  The key policy document on mental health is entitled “A Vision for Change” and the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, which was established to monitor its implementation have been very critical to date in their five annual reports on the lack of progress in implementation.  See here.  In its most recent report it was critical of the absence of a recovery ethos within mental health services.  This is a major challenge that has to be addressed as principles of recovery are at the core of the philosophy underpinning “A Vision for Change”.  While there is much to be dismayed about we are at an important crossroads in Ireland in relation to our mental health laws.  The Department of Health is in the process of reviewing of the Mental Health Act 2001, while the Department of Justice is similarily reviewing the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.  This provides a significant opportunity to rethink our mental health laws in light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which the Government is working towards Continue reading “World Mental Health Day”

World Mental Health Day

Has the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities re-written Article 33.2?

“Since publishing this blog posting it has transpired that shortly before Spain’s examination the Spanish Ombudsman, which is an ‘A’ accredited National Human Rights Institution, was incorporated into Spain’s independent framework alongside CERMI, hence explaining the UNCRPD Committee’s concluding observation the Spain is in ‘full compliance’ with Article 33.2 the Convention.   Contrary to the posting, this suggests that the UNCRPD Committee does prefer the inclusion of Paris Principles compliant NHRI’s in the framework and is unlikely to entertain States choosing to exclude them where they exist.”

We are delighted  to welcome this guest post by Neil Crowther a leading disability rights and equality advocate. Neil an independent consultant and writes in a personal capacity. He was previously Director of Human Rights at Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) where he led the development and implementation of its domestic and international human rights programme.  Prior to his role as Director of the EHRC Neil led the Commission’s disability rights programme.

In September, Spain followed Tunisia in becoming only the second State to have been examined by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The tone of the examination and the concluding observations made by the Committee will therefore be of considerable interest and are likely to be a reference point for future examinations and domestic implementation.

The concluding observations certainly make interesting reading and a number are likely to prove controversial, such as on the matter of late terminations of foetuses identified as having a disability.  I will focus here on the rather more prosaic, yet highly significant concluding observation regarding Spain’s compliance with Article 33.2.

In the section titled ‘positive aspects’ the Committee states emphatically that it:

“commends the State party for establishing independent monitoring mechanisms in full compliance with art. 33.2 of the Convention.” (my emphasis)

The reason this is so intriguing is that Spain has designated the Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities (CERMI) – an NGO – to perform the monitoring function.

Article 33.2 requires that:

‘States Parties shall, in accordance with their legal and administrative systems, maintain, strengthen, designate or establish within the State Party, a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, as appropriate, to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the present Convention. When designating or establishing such a mechanism, States Parties shall take into account the principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights.’

That such a framework can include disabled people’s organisations is without doubt, and this posting should not be read as an attack on CERMI which is an excellent organisation Continue reading “Has the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities re-written Article 33.2?”

Has the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities re-written Article 33.2?