DAA News Network

Europe: Institutional imprisonment of disabled people condemned

Posted 13/6-11 at 14.48

The European Disability Forum (EDF) has reasserted its opposition to the institutionalisation of disabled people. This follows the BBC's revelations about the abuse of disabled people in Winterbourne View care home near Bristol in the UK.

Erik Olsen, EDF Executive Member, says: "The institutionalisation of persons with disabilities is not only a problem limited to the UK's care system, this case was merely one example. Our figures suggest that hundreds of thousands of people across the EU are housed in institutions. Further, we have identified that it is in fact a problem to which the EU still contributes financially via the Structural Funds when they are used to refurbish and create new institutions. Mainstreaming the UN Convention is the only way forward."

The EDF is calling on Member States to stop using EU money to finance institutions. They want the European Commission to ensure that no money is invested in projects aimed at restoring such facilities.


Editorial comment: The EDF statement, the shocking evidence from the BBC investigative report, the New York Times' story about the rampant abuse found at state-run institutions add to the many similar stories DAA has covered about how institutional care brutalises disabled people. What all these incidents show, beyond argument, is that in a great many instances institutional care leads to gross violations of human rights of the most vulnerable disabled people.

Article 19 of the CRPD is explicit on what needs to be done. It reads:

"States Parties to this Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:

(a) Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement;

(b) Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;

(c) Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs."

Using this provision of the UN Convention, as well as domestic laws against assault and other forms of physical and psychological abuse, disabled people and their allies must shout out against what amounts to the incarceration and torture of people whose only ‘crime' is that they are disabled.







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