Equal rights for all
The Coalition represents over 100 organisations, government and non-government- and people with a wide range of disabilities - physical, visual, hearing, multiple and learning - and their families and friends from the above 5 countries.
The organisations came together in their respective countries to discuss the rights of people with disabilities within the legal, constitutional and social frameworks in each country.
This process was funded by the British Foreign Office through the Human Rights Project Fund and managed by the British Council in Ukraine.
Some of the countries in this region, Ukraine and Belarus in particular, are still suffering from the impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that took place in April 1986 and resulted in a dramatic increase in congenital birth defects. In addition, social and economic transition has led to further marginalisation of people with disabilities. And the Soviet policy of institutionalisation of people with disabilities continues even to this date. Medical, social, educational, cultural and economic support are very inadequate for people with disabilities and their families, and there is considerable stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities.
The British Council, in co-operation with its partners in Ukraine and Poland, and jointly with Open Health Institute, St. Petersburg, Soros Foundation, Moldova and the Belarusian Association of Assistance to Handicapped Children and Young People in Belarus, organised a series of meetings during which the participants
It was generally agreed that if the existing international treaties were to be implemented in the true spirit in which they have been drawn up, there would be no real need for a separate convention for people with disabilities. However, the reality is that despite the fact that each of the 5 countries are signatories to the various conventions, people with disabilities continue to feel socially, economically, politically and culturally excluded.
What is lacking is a strong national or international mechanism to guarantee that people with disabilities are given the same rights and freedoms that are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights. In addition there is no monitoring/reporting body or court that can be accessed by people with disabilities when their rights are violated.
What is also lacking is specific reference to people with disabilities in the existing Conventions (with the exception of the Convention on the Rights of the Child). The rights of people with disabilities should be incorporated into ALL the Conventions so that they read that ALL people have equal rights regardless of race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, age, level of ability or disability, caste or nationality.
Therefore this coalition strongly urges that:
In order to ensure the above, this coalition recommends that the new Convention incorporates the following Core Rights for People with Disabilities that they are guaranteed within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but that need to highlighted in the new convention:
Specific provision on the implementation process of the rights of people with disabilities:
(a) Equality before the law and entitlement to an equal protection of the law
State Parties should have the duty to ensure the right of people with disabilities to a fair juridical defence and assistance from the office. State Parties should also have the duty to ensure the right of people with disabilities to special treatment during arrest and detention. States may also consider establishing formal statutory complaint mechanisms in order to protect the interests of persons with disabilities.
(b) Accessibility as a way to equal participation
(1) Access to physical environment
(2) Access to information and communication
State Parties should ensure that the media, especially television, radio and newspapers make their services accessible and should also ensure that new computerised information and service systems offered to the general public are either made initially accessible or are adapted to be made accessible to the persons with disabilities.
(c) The right to education
In situations where the general school system does not yet adequately meet the needs of all people with disabilities, special education may be considered. The quality of such education should reflect the same standards and ambitions as general education and should be closely linked to it. State Parties should aim for the gradual integration of special education services into mainstream education.
(d) The right to medical care and rehabilitation
State Parties should ensure the provision of rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities in order to reach and sustain their optimum level of independence and functioning and should develop national rehabilitation programmes for all groups of persons with disabilities, without any discrimination to those with severe and/or multiple disabilities. Such programmes should be based on the individual needs of persons with disabilities and on the principles of full participation and equality.
State Parties should ensure the provision of supportive devices and equipment, personal assistance and interpreter services, according to the needs of persons with disabilities, as important measures to achieve true opportunities.
(e) The right to equal employment and social security
State Parties should undertake their duty to create privileged conditions for persons with disabilities as with other members of the community. Also, to guarantee the right to a just and favourable remuneration ensuring the person with disability and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
Member States should ensure the provision of adequate income support to persons with disabilities who, owing to disability or disability-related factors, have temporally lost or received a reduction in their income or have been denied employment opportunities. States should guarantee that the provision of support takes into account the costs frequently incurred by persons with disabilities and their families as a result of the disability. State Parties should also ensure the provision of income support and social security protection to individuals (including parents and siblings) who undertake the care of a person with a disability. Consequently, State Parties should include disability matters in the regular budgets of all national, regional and local government bodies.
(f) Family life and personal integrity
Persons with disabilities and their families need to be fully informed about taking precautions against sexual and other forms of abuse and also to be educated on how to avoid the occurrence of such abuse, recognise when abuse has occurred and report such acts. They should also have access to information about public health issues such as HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections in order to protect their health and lives.
(g) Right to political participation
State parties should consider reservation of national and local parliamentary seats for people with disabilities in order to ensure their participation in political dialogues within the Member States.
(h) Right to a life without stigma and discrimination
Member States should also ensure that people with disabilities are able to lead a life without inhumane, demeaning or humiliating treatment and that people who are receive such treatment are compensated for this either by the government or by the perpetrators of such treatment. In addition, such perpetrators must face the legal consequences of their actions.
(i) Right to acceptable standards of housing and accommodation
State parties must ensure that neonate children and babies diagnosed with disabilities are able to live with their families and not institutionalised and that special housing is offered to the families so that children are able to grow up in a loving and caring atmosphere.
(j) The equal right to cultural activities and recreation
(k) The Right to religious and spiritual beliefs and practices
The monitoring mechanism:
The monitoring process should be put into effect both through the national monitoring process and through international monitoring mechanisms.
The national monitoring process should be the responsibility of State Parties who should undertake continuous monitoring and evaluation of national programmes and services concerning the equal opportunities for people with disabilities. In doing so, State Parties should carry out their obligation to appoint an independent national authority for monitoring the finances from budgetary or/and extra-budgetary resources assigned to persons with disabilities. The independent national authorities should comprise a panel of independent experts with relevant and extensive experience in disability issues funded by extra-budgetary resources from different projects organised by the specialised agencies of the United Nations. These independent national authorities shall prepare reports and present them annually to the specialised agencies of the United Nations.
The purpose of the international monitoring mechanism is to guarantee effective implementation of the Convention, to identify obstacles and suggest suitable measures that would contribute to a successful outcome. It will assist each State Party in assessing its level of implementation of the Convention and in measuring its progress. State Parties should participate in international co-operation in order to develop common standards for national evaluation in the disability field and to ensure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities are included in all relevant policy-making and national planning.