DAA News Network

Disabled people lobby EU on right to independent living

Posted 23/9-09 at 18.44

Freedom Drive rally in a long line

In the week beginning September 14th, more than 400 disabled people from more than 20 European countries met in Strasbourg for the Freedom Drive.This event, held to highlight the demand by disabled people to be liberated from institutions and live as equals within the wider community, was organised by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL).

"The segregation of people with disabilities in long-stay institutions is a violation of disabled people's human rights" said Freedom Driver Ines Bulic of the UK. She was one of the speakers at Monday's conference "Implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability" which kicked off the Freedom Drive week.

One of the eight demands of Freedom Drivers given to EU Parliament President Jerzy Burzek and Richard Howitt MEP, was for the European Community to ratify the UN Convention. Freedom Drivers asked for a continuation of the development of community-based services to achieve de-institutionalization across Europe.They also called for the implementation of their human right to a personal assistance service, something that is fundamental to guarantee independent living.

Eleanor Lisney shaking hands with Jerzy Buzek

DAA's Eleanor Lisney, who took part in the Freedom Drive, observed that, "...having so many disabled people in the EU Parliament made a great impression. Personally it made me aware of how we've got to keep fighting for what we have in case it gets eroded away. It also made me aware that the economic crisis is not a goodexcuse for depriving us of our rights."

Jerzy Burzek and Richard Howitt said they were committed to fight for the rights of people with disabilities. They encouraged Freedom Drivers to keep lobbying their national MEPs to promote Independent Living in their countries. Freedom Drivers ended the week with a celebration of the 20th anniversary of ENIL.

For full reports, including photos and videos see:

http://www.enil.eu/enil/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=5&Itemid=86

For more details on the question of getting people out of institutions and supporting them to live in the community, see:  http://www.community-living.info/documents/ENIL_ResearchPaper_Jan09.doc

www.kent.ac.uk/tizard/research/research_projects/DECLOC_Volume_1_Exec_Summary.pdf

 

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