FVID – the Independent Living Forum in Spain has expressed concern about the process of deinstitutionalization in Spain, following a successful submission FEVI – the Independent Living Federation – sent to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities earlier this year and the Committee’s recommendations to Spain on Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
As raised in the submission, FEVI is concerned about the role of large disabled people’s organisations in maintaining the system of institutions in Spain, despite claiming that they support independent living. One of these is CERMI – the Spanish umbrella organisation, which in August called for “a deinstitutionalization strategy that supports the promotion of independent community living with the necessary support, and […] equal access to sexual and reproductive health services for all women and teenagers with disabilities”.
Through its press monitoring activity, FEVI continues to find evidence of the maintaining and building of new institutions by authorities and entities closely linked to CERMI, such as COCEMFE, PLENA INCLUSIÓN or ASPACE, one of the founding organisations of CERMI and prominent members of the disability umbrella organization. Most recent examples include a 1 mil EUR investment in an institution in la Rioja, the addition to 22 beds to an institution supported by FEGADI COCEMFE, the building of a first “specialized center” for people with Down syndrome in the Canary Islands, and a new 16-place institution in Andalucia.
This is not the first time FEVI and FVID are exposing the hypocrisy of the umbrella organisations, which call for independent living, while helping to strengthen the system of institutional care. The Independent Living movement in Spain is strongly opposed to the outdated policies that are in place, underlining that residential centers are not sustainable or in accordance with the CRPD.
FVID stresses the urgent need to implement a well-planned and adequately supported process of deinstitutionalization, to complete the long-awaited regulation and improvement of the personal assistance service, and access to housing by disabled people. They note that international human rights laws and treaties are there to be implemented, and quoting Thomas Mann, they state that “Tolerance is a crime when what is tolerated is evil.”
“We cannot wait for further delays in the policies of our authorities that segregate us because of our functional diversity, so it is time for all the necessary means to avoid dependence and to promote independent living. From the Forum of Independent Living and Diversity we have been proposing the adoption of a Law on Independent Living, which is needed to promote an inclusive life with equal opportunities for all disabled people. We reach out to CERMI to support this project before our political representatives and the Government administration. At the same time, we urge the Committee in charge to take effective measures to “adopt a deinstitutionalisation strategy that is committed to promoting independent living in the community with the necessary support”, FVID conclude.
The Spanish version of this article, published by FVID, can be found here.