Persons with intellectual disabilities demand full citizenship rights

PRESS RELEASE: Zagreb, 8 October 2013

Over 160 persons with intellectual disabilities and supporters from 20 different countries took part in the 3rd European conference of self-advocates held on 4-6 October 2013 in Zagreb. Marking the European Year of Citizens, people with intellectual disabilities took this opportunity to claim their rights as full and equal citizens of Europe.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities guarantees all people with disabilities the right to take an active part in society on an equal basis with others. Yet, restrictions on legal capacity, discrimination and segregation in institutional care constantly undermine the status of persons with intellectual disabilities as equal citizens in European society.

Self-advocates present at the conference were unanimous in demanding the right to make choices about their own lives. Legal capacity opens the door to full enjoyment of other fundamental rights such as the right to live independently, get married or take part in political and public life. Having legal capacity with adequate support and appropriate safeguards is thus essential for persons with intellectual disabilities to be in control of their life.

People with intellectual disabilities want to have their voices heard and taken seriously. ‘Don’t read about us but meet with us in person. Listen to what we have to say!’ was one of the main messages addressed to European decision-makers. Self-advocates also called on governments to abolish full guardianship and invest in the development community-based support services.

The conference was organised by the European Platform of Self-Advocates in cooperation with the Association for Self-Advocacy and Inclusion Europe. The choice of fourteen workshops provided European self-advocates with an outstanding opportunity to discuss their rights and exchange ideas and experiences in different aspects of life.

About the organisers:

The European Platform of Self-Advocates (EPSA) is the alliance of national, regional as well as local organisations of self-advocates working together to strengthen the self-advocacy movement in Europe. 

Inclusion Europe (IE) is the European voice and representation of over 70 member organisations of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Founded in 1988, Inclusion Europe has more than 20-year track record of successful operation and defending the rights of its constituency. 

The Association for Self-Advocacyis a non-governmental and non-profit association established and managed by people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in Zagreb in 2003, the association works to empower people with intellectual disabilities in Croatia to actively advocate for their rights.

For more information, please contact

Silvana Enculescu
Communications Officer

Inclusion Europe
Tel: +32 2 502 28 15
Fax: +32 2 502 80 10