Open Letter by ENIL to the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands

Open Letter by ENIL to the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands

The European Network on Independent Living has written an Open Letter to the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands to express concern about the death of Roelie, a 44- year old women with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems in a residential institution in March 2012.

In this letter, ENIL appeals to the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands to ensure that a number of actions are implemented including ensuring the development of quality community-based services for persons with disabilities, such as personal assistance, housing, peer support and access of persons with disabilities to mainstream services in order to prevent their placement in residential care and also to  ensure that the human rights of persons with disabilities that are in residential care and other services are respected and that they are provided with adequate support and care which can be achieved through regular and independent monitoring of all services, involving persons with disabilities themselves.

Here is the complete letter:

Mr. Martin Van Rijn
Secretary of State
Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport
Postbus 20350
2500 EJ Den Haag
The Netherlands
E-mail: gh.koolen@minvws.nl
Fax: +31 (0)70 340 78 3

In Dublin, 15th August 2013

Open letter by the European Network on Independent Living to the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands

Dear Secretary of State, Mr. Van Rijn,

I am writing to you on behalf of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), to express our deepest concern about the death of Roelie, a 44-year-old woman with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems in a residential institution in March 2012. The case came to our attention through the “Nieuwsuur” programme of 5 August 2013[1], which detailed the circumstances of her placement at the residential institution and her subsequent death. It is from this programme that we learnt that, despite clear evidence of ill-treatment by her carers, no one has been held accountable for her death.

It is widely acknowledged that human rights abuses against persons with disabilities are rife in institutional care – even in smaller residential facilities of the open type, such as the one Roelie lived in. Whereas in theory residents can come and go as they please, there is no guarantee that their rights will be respected, and that they will be safe from abuse. For this reason, and to facilitate the full inclusion and participation in the community of persons with disabilities, ENIL advocates for all persons with disabilities to be provided with adequate support to live independently, in line with Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This includes ensuring access to personal assistance, housing, peer support and mainstream services, such as education, employment, health, transport and leisure.

The impetus of developing and maintaining community-based services for persons with disabilities, as an alternative to institutional care is of particular importance in the face of austerity measures across the European Union and a noticeable reduction in the support provided. It is the taking away of independent living support and other community-based services that drives more and more persons with disabilities into residential care.

Finally, to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities in residential care, it is important to carry out regular independent monitoring of all residential facilities for persons with disabilities. Such inspections, which should involve persons with disabilities themselves and must be followed up with concrete actions, can ensure that residents are treated with dignity and respect, and that their support and treatment needs are met. While the provider which ran the residential facility in Roelie’s case was eventually closed down, it appears there are many similar facilities in the Netherlands which fail to meet even the minimum standards of care.[2]

Given the circumstances of Roelie’s death and the fact that many persons with disabilities are facing human rights abuses on a daily basis, ENIL appeals to the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands:

  • To ensure the development of quality community-based services for persons with disabilities, such as personal assistance, housing, peer support and access of persons with disabilities to mainstream services, in order to prevent their placement in residential care;
  • To safeguard the existing community-based services for persons with disabilities against the cuts in public spending; the reduction in the available support has been shown to leave persons with disabilities and their families with no other option other than residential care;
  • To ensure that the human rights of persons with disabilities in residential care and other services are respected, and that they are provided with adequate support and care; this can be achieved through regular and independent monitoring of all services, involving persons with disabilities themselves;
  • To ensure that those responsible for abuses in residential facilities and other services for persons with disabilities are brought to justice;
  • To facilitate the full ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol; the Netherlands is one of the three remaining EU Member States (alongside Ireland and Finland) not to have ratified the Convention.

Thank you for your consideration of this letter. Please contact our Western Regional Team Coordinator Mr. Peter Lambregths (peter@independentliving.be) for any questions or ways our organisation can be of assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Bolling
Executive Director
European Network on Independent Living

CC:      Johan Ten Geuzendam, Head of the Disability Unit, DG Justice, European Commission


[2] As cited in the “Nieuwsuur” programme, inspection carried out in the 44 out of 140 residential facilities for persons with disabilities in the Netherlands showed that 64% fail to meet even the minimum standards of care.

This letter is available to read in Dutsch.

To read the full article in relation to Roelie please click here

 

1 Comment

Heleen van der Leest

August 19, 2013, 6:50 pm

People must be held respon .sible and accountable for this..mistreating. This was not care at all.

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