Saturday, June 9, 2012

European Union report says disability rights 'not being respected'


A new report says that discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental health problems "persists" throughout Europe.

The report, by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), said this is the case despite the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the EU and 21 member states.

The FRA says the report "captures the experiences of exclusion and discrimination" of people with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems.

The agency says it "highlights the need to move from institutional to community-based living arrangements and to "reformulate" laws and policies to make them "more inclusive".

FRA director Morten Kjaerum said, "Much still remains to be done to realise the rights of Europe's 80 million people with disabilities.

"The UN convention sets out an ambitious path to improve the situation of people with disabilities. The challenge now is to implement it.

"FRA's research illustrates that the fundamental rights of people with disabilities are lagging behind legal guarantees, particularly as austerity measures begin to bite.

"This work provides the basis for discussions of practical measures that will make a difference to their daily lives."

The FRA looked into the experiences of independent living of people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental health problems in nine member states.

It found that they often face difficulties in their daily lives, including laws and policies that do not enable people with disabilities to live independently.

Another problem was "negative attitudes and prejudice that do not recognise the contribution people with disabilities make".

Kjaerum added, "The report shows that for independent living to be successful, deinstitutionalisation needs to be coupled with social policy reform in education, healthcare, employment and personal support options.

"People with disabilities have to be involved in the development of these policies."