France was reviewed by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Committee) in August 2021. Meetings with the French DPOs took place at the beginning of August. Our French members, Coordination Handicap et Autonomie – Vie Autonome France, submitted a written contribution prior to the review.

In its Concluding Observations (COs), the Committee recalls the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and highlights a number of issues in France. We are highlighting two issues here, of particular relevance to our work:

The Committee starts the COs with its concern about the legislation and public policies based on the medical model, which represents a serious problem in France.  It highlights the following barries:

The absence of measures to review and harmonise disability-related national, regional and municipal legislation and policies with the Convention, and legislation and public policies based on the medical model and paternalistic approaches to disability, including the definition of disability in the Act on Equal Rights and Opportunities, Participation and Citizenship for Persons with Disabilities, of 11 February 2005 that focuses on incapacity of persons with disabilities and their “normalization”

“The medical treatment of persons with psychosocial disabilities and autistic persons, and the ‘model of medico-social care’ for persons with disabilities, which sustains systematic institutionalization of persons on the basis of disability.”

The Committee asks the French Government to “review existing disability-related legislation and policies to harmonise them with the Convention, including by transposing into domestic law the human rights model of disability.”

The COs set out concerns in all areas of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

As for Article 19, the Committee expresses concern about the placement of children and adults in segregated settings, including “medico-social institutions” and specialised services, and small size residential care institutions. It also expresses its concern about the placement of disabled children in psychiatric hospitals and other institutions, including in other countries, mainly Belgium.

The Committee notes the lack of arrangements for independent living and indvidualised support for disabled people.

The Committee recalls the General Comment 5 and recommends ending the institutionalisation of disabled children and adults, including in small settings, and asks the Government to adopt a national strategy to end institutionalisation.

The Committee highlighted the importance of Government’s consultations with DPOs when preparing its periodic report.

As a follow up, the Committee underlines a number of measures. Measures falling under Article 14 and Article 19 of the CRPD are highlighted as urgent measures.

ENIL welcomes these strong recommendations by the Committee and hopes they will act as a catalyst for change. Together with our French members, we will keep challenging institutionalisation of disabled people in France and the lack of independent living supports, and we will continue demanding concrete action. We now have the Concluding Observations to support this advocacy work.

The Concluding Observations in full can be found here.