CRPD Committee must take people with intellectual disabilities into account in EU review

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is currently in the process of examining the measures taken by the European institutions to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are considered in all relevant legislative proposals, as well as in all EU policy processes. On 17 April 2015, the UN Committee has published a List of Issues, a set of questions and requests for clarification from the European Union. This is an important part of the process of reviewing if the European Union complies with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as they committed to doing when they ratified the Convention. In August this year, the Committee will discuss these issues with the European Union and with disability NGOs.

During the 13th session of the CRPD Committee in Geneva, Inclusion Europe participated in both formal events and in informal meetings with Committee members, and highlighted the most stringent issues for persons with intellectual disabilities and their families in Europe. Despite of the obvious limitations of the competencies of the EU as a regional integration organisation, the EU could do a lot more to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy equal rights as other European citizens. Therefore, Inclusion Europe advocated for including concrete questions in the List of Issues on the additional barriers that persons with intellectual disabilities face in the areas of legal capacity, participation, independent living, accessibility, education and employment. Crucially, we advocated for the Committee addressing the deprivation of legal capacity that hinders the participation of thousands of persons with intellectual disabilities in European elections, whether as voters or candidates. People under guardianship are deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to marry, the right to vote or the right to make their own decisions on where to live or how to spend their money.

While some of our concerns are reflected in the document, Inclusion Europe and its members are deeply saddened by the List of Issues not addressing  some crucial  obstacles that  constitute the lived reality of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families across Europe. Different groups of people with disabilities have different support needs, and that the European Union must make sure that all groups have equal access to their rights. At present, persons with intellectual disabilities are marginalized due to the lack of specific measures that guarantee the fulfilment of their rights in the provisions of EU laws, policies, and programmes, and in internal institutional structures.

Persons with intellectual disabilities and their families are therefore extremely disappointed that the List of Issues adopted by the UN CRPD Committee fails to address some of the most urging issues and human rights violations. We are particularly concerned that Article 12 of the CRPD on Equal recognition before the law has not been involved in the List of Issues, despite of the EU’s competence under Article 10 and 19 of the Treaty to combat discrimination on the basis of disability in all areas of life. Furthermore, we are noting with regret that there is no mention in the List of Issues of Article 23 of the CRPD and the necessary support families as primary care takers should receive, considering that the responsibility of caring for children with complex needs greatly hinders their participation in employment. In the sections that discuss accessibility to information, goods and services, there is no specific reference to easy-to-read format, plain structures and simplified processes. Thus, the List of Issues does not require the European Union to focus its attention on the core issues relevant for people with intellectual disabilities.

Inclusion Europe calls on the CRPD Committee to take a more ambitious approach during the Constructive Dialogue, and to ask specific questions to the EU on issues that prevent thousands of persons with intellectual disabilities from enjoying their rights as EU citizens and benefitting from EU policies and programmes on an equal basis with others.

For more information, please contact Magdi Birtha, Inclusion Europe Policy Officer, at