In Vienna and Brussels, 3 November 2022 – For the third time, Independent Living Austria (ILA) and the European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) have filed an official complaint to the European Commission against Austria. It concerns the misuse of an estimated €1.0 million from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which is being used in Carinthia for the construction of a new residential facility for 16 disabled children between the ages of five and 17 years.
“The fact that residential facilities for disabled children are still being built in Austria in 2022 is a scandal,” Bernadette Feuerstein, chairwoman of SLIÖ, expresses her indignation, “all the human rights recommendations of the United Nations are simply ignored.”
“Austria is ignoring both the international human rights law and science, which says that the only acceptable place for any child is a family”, stated Jamie Bolling, the Co-Chair of ENIL, noting that “the placement of disabled children in separate facilities, away from their families, is discrimination plain and simple.”
As early as 2012, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed serious concerns about the fact that, in Austria, many children with disabilities are in institutional care. The Committee called for measures to be taken to deinstitutionalize children with disabilities and to better support families, so that children with disabilities can grow up with their parents. This was confirmed by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013.
More recently, in January 2020, while checking what progress Austria has achieved in implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Child Rights Committee once again urged authorities to formulate a coherent strategy for deinstitutionalization and to ensure that children with disabilities are not separated from their families.
“With the funds budgeted for the construction of the residential facility by the EU and the province of Carinthia, high-quality family support services and personal assistance for children with disabilities could have been financed,” says Feuerstein, “now their segregation has been cast in concrete again for many years.”
Notes for the editors:
ILA is the nationwide advocacy organisation of the Independent Living Movement in Austria. As an umbrella organisation, ILA aims at creating preconditions for the independent living of persons with disabilities and their equality in all spheres of live. In line with the principle “Nothing about us without us” and the self-advocacy right of persons with disabilities, ILA represents and supports initiatives, organisations and individuals in their fight for equality and against discrimination. The aim is to achieve equality of persons with disabilities and to fully enforce their rights as citizens.
The European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) is a Europe-wide network of disabled people, with members throughout Europe. ENIL’s vision is of Europe where all disabled people are able to exercise choice and control over their lives, on an equal level with others; where they are valued members of the community and can enjoy all of their human rights, as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). ENIL’s mission is to advocate and lobby for Independent Living values, principles and practices, namely for a barrier-free environment, provision of personal assistance support and adequate technical aids, together making full citizenship of disabled people possible. ENIL’s activities target European, national and local administrations, politicians, media, and the general society. See: www.enil.eu
For additional information, please contact Bernadette Feuerstein (ILA), firstname.lastname@example.org or Ines Bulic Cojocariu (ENIL), Director, email@example.com. The full text of the complaint is available here.