Disabled People Have a Right to Live in the Community

EU Structural Funds, intended to foster social inclusion and egalitarian regional development, are being spent on exactly the opposite
The following article originally appeared in EU Observer.

On Monday, December 3, the international community recognized International Day of Persons with Disabilities. An estimated 1.2 million people with disabilities in Europe continue to languish in long-stay institutions. Institutionalization is widely recognized as a systematic and egregious violation of human rights.

Today, EU Structural Funds, intended to foster social inclusion and egalitarian regional development, are being spent on exactly the opposite.

Several Central and Eastern European countries like Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia have invested tens of millions of euros in structural funds to build and/or renovate long-stay institutions for people with disabilities instead of supporting community-based alternatives, which safeguard human rights and are more cost-effective.

In Romania, it is estimated that €29 million in Structural Funds allocated for 2007-2013 was spent on expanding or renovating 39 existing institutions. In Slovakia, there is evidence that between 2008 and 2010, more than €185 million in Structural Funds were invested in renovating or constructing 130 institutions, all of which had over 50 residents.

The Bulgarian government decided to invest Structural Funds in the construction of 149 congregate settings for 14 children each. In Hungary, the current call for Structural Funds proposals allows for the option to build institutions for up to 50 people, and there is a chance that such new institutions will be built beginning in 2013.

People in institutions are disempowered, isolated, and denied basic rights like education, employment and the right to live in the community as equal citizens. Lack of heating, malnutrition, inadequate clothing, unhygienic sanitation, abuse and exploitation, and little or no rehabilitative or therapeutic activities are just some of the problems reported in institutions.

The EU must address this unjustifiable misuse of the Structural Funds. It is a breach of EU law and amounts to indirect discrimination. The EU and Member States when implementing EU law (which includes the use of Structural Funds) are under a legal obligation to ensure that standards are met under the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Specifically the EU must safeguard: the right to liberty or freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to private and family life; the right to live independently; and the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of disability.

Community living means that people with disabilities can live and participate in the community as equal citizens with equal rights and opportunities, and focuses on individualized care, choice, and access to services.

Vibrant examples of inclusive communities are being developed in several Central and Eastern European countries by organizations that promote supported living and employment, inclusive education, and home-based services. What has been lacking until now is the financial backing to replicate these efforts at the national level.

Unless the EU explicitly demands that recipient countries invest Structural Funds in community-based services for people with disabilities, we will not see the shift to community-based models and appropriate supports and services for people with disabilities.

It is clear that the EU, as the donor of Structural Funds, has a responsibility to ensure that Member State recipients of the funds promote social inclusion.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee recently bestowed the Nobel Peace Prize upon the EU for what it believes is its most significant achievement: “the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.”

The prize should serve as a reminder to its recipient that it has a responsibility to promote basic rights for all of its citizens. That includes ensuring that its Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020 incorporates rigorous measures to ensure that Structural Funds are invested in promoting the right of people with disabilities to live in the community. They are European citizens, after all.

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I completely agree with the proposed deinstitutionalization and community-based policy approach. As a part of a EU LLL/Grundtvig project EMPAD (2010-2012) I have written a special report on this to support the social inclusion and empowerment of people with mental disorders. Report is avilable online:
http://www.julkari.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/80493/URN_ISBN_978-952-245-...

This article is a point view with some limits. First of all, you have institutions who make great job in europe and offer health care and projects for disabled people.
This article is a generality about institutions and disability. All disabilities are not the same and some of them need institutions. You have disabilities for which the dependance is very high, and a lot of families look for good institutions and don't find in some countries. Families don't feel supported in such case. I think that it will be more fair to have a perfect knowledge of the projects of institutions renovated. Is it sure that those institutions will not make an effort to integrate innovative programms, foster their psychological support, and their supply of activities and services to disabled people? An institution with good professionnal and people can do great job and offer a good life for people in deep difficulties.
If Institutions are not the only one solution, in the same time alternative solutions are not the only one way, because the disabilities are very different and need a wide variety of solutions. Probably the question is what exactly in institution will be renovated and for what disability? Is there programms of training for professionnal of those institutions?
Maybe the E.U may encourage the professionnal of thoses institutions to develop their skills and knowledge and it will be a positive result. In conclusion, make a negative generality about all institutions in Europe is not the solution. A balance between institutions and alternative approaches regards to the disability is probably more efficient. I agree absolutely that E.U must control projects which are financialy supported, anyway, when you read this article it seems that all institutions in europe are the devil...

Institutions by their very nature segregate people with disabilities from their communities and that violates their fundamental right to live and be included in the community. The EU has ratified the UNCRPD which in Article 19 clearly sets out the right to community living. There would be no need for residential institutions if people could get the support they need locally.

DISABLED PEOPLE TREATED VERY BADLY IN EU AND ITALY.IN ITALY INVALIDIATA CIVILE PEOPLE DOES NOT GET PROPER HELP FROM ITALIAN SERVICIO SOCIALE.I AM 46% PERCENT DISABLE BUT NOT GETING ANY HELP FROM THE SOCIAL DEPARTMENT. EVEN NO PENSION IN ITALY . AFTERWARDS THEY WILL SEND ME BACK MY COUNTRY ORIGIN NO VALUE OF GREEN CARD.I AM A HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST I HAVE NO RIGHTS IN ITALY AND THEY WILL NOT GIVE MY ITALIAN PASSPORT THOUGH I AM HERE IN ITALY LAST 18 YEARS AS A REGULAR IMMIGRANT. WHO WILL SOLVE MY PROBLEM GOD KNOWS. EVEN I HAVE WORKED 12 YEARS IN ITALY. THANK YOU ALL.

Firstly, we are all human beings created by a most superior Being, God. People who are handicapped/physically challenged are memebers of the human race; they deserve and should have care and support. Some families are able and devoted in the care of such persons, while some dont. Institutionalization comes into play when the where withall is lscking. Thus, while supporting that family environment should be perfect for such care, there may be situations where institutionalization is the answer. The ultimate goal however, is to remember that this vulnerable members of the human race deserve the care and support from all concerned

Institutionalization is not the answer when there are decent support services available in local communities. Unfortunately, in many places there are no decent services and families are left with no support. Everyone in society, regardless of ability, needs support- there is no 'us and them', there is only 'us'- that should not be so difficult to remember.

People with disabilities should be treated fairly. It's like history always repeat itself. Human being never learn from their mistakes. A long time ago they use to discriminate people with certain illness such as Leprosy; until one day a curious Dr. decided to push forward and started to treat infected people with antibiotic (penicillin). After just three month people were cure and now day this illness is completelly eradicated from Western countries.
This is exactly the reason why a lot people with disabilities don't come forward. Society will always manage to keep people in a box; luckily there are others great people around the world, who try to make this complex world a better place for everybody. Peace be still.

For a long time a large majority of persons with disability (PWDs) in Turkana County of Kenya have been wallowing in poverty with no support. Many of them decided to do something about their situation. They formed themselves into groups. However, virtually all disabled people's organisations (DPOs) never received any external support. We formed an umbrella organisation for all the disabled groups in Turkana County in 2010, referred as Turkana Disabled Network (TDN). Although we have been writing many proposal to donors but the organisation only received little funding from the government of Kenya's body that deals with persons with disabilities (that is National Council for Persons with Disability). It sees donors are holding to the tradition of discriminating PWDs. The support we got from the government has helped to integrate people with disability into the community as it enabled them to earn income and be able to contribute to the income of their families.

JOHN HUNT turned 30 recently, but spent his birthday — like the previous five — locked up in a psychiatric unit in Cork city.

A physically healthy man when he first went into the mental health system, he is now a shell of his former self due to the quantities and varieties of medication he has been prescribed over the years in an attempt to make him better. His teeth and gums are rotten, he gets the shakes, he is at times incontinent and his passion for life appears to be gone.

The story of John’s "incarceration" is a complex and heartbreaking one, and one to which there are no easy answers. But what is clear is that the medical model of treatment alone is no longer acceptable for cases like John — and for a modern mental health service.

Gráinne Humphrys, John’s former partner and the mother of his son Joshua, has also felt locked into this situation for almost six long years.

Campaigning tirelessly and employing powerful language to describe the "chemical restraints" used to control a non-compliant patient — as John is at times — she has garnered much attention for his case by conjuring up images of a lost soul imprisoned against his will.

Broken from the years of campaigning, battling and heartache, Gráinne recently reached her brick wall and, after much consideration, ended her relationship with John.

Read more: http://www.examiner.ie/ireland/trapped-in-a-system-without-hope-163301.h...

Read more:http://freejohn-loverevolutionary.blogspot.co.uk/

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