Geneva, 19 September 2014 – A side event organised today by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), GRIP and Onafhankelijk Leven during the 12th Session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sent a strong message that there must be no compromises in implementing Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Delegates from across the world, which included Independent Living and disability activists, the Regional representative of the UN OHCHR in Brussels, CRPD Committee members and others discussed the misinterpretation of concepts contained in Article 19 – the right to live independently and to be included in the community. The speakers described some of the ‘shortcuts’ taken by Governments: replacing institutions with the so-called Small Group Homes, using the European Union Structural Funds to renovate institutions or using Personal Assistance and direct payments to keep people in institutional care.
ENIL definitions on Independent Living, supported at the event by the Regional representative of the UN OHCHR in Brussels, can provide valuable guidance to Governments and the CRPD Committee in implementing and monitoring Article 19 of the CRPD. But that, clearly is not enough. To change ‘the corrupt system’ in many countries – as described by one of the delegates – we must raise awareness of disabled people, service providers, Governments and others about how to put Independent Living in practice. Clearly, Independent Living is not about survival, but about autonomy, participation and freedom.
As Elisabeta Moldovan, a self-advocate from Romania, who spent over 20 years living in institutions and small group homes pointed out: “Only now, after two years of living in my own rented flat, do I have the freedom to make my own decisions. Only now do I feel fulfilled.” Everyone, no matter which part of the world they come from and how much support they need, deserves the same chance.
If you would like to hear the complete session, please click on this link: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/crpd-12-side-event-art-19-independent-living-english-audio/