At the end of May, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities published the Draft Guidelines on Deinstitutionalisation, including in Emergencies and opened up the document for public consultation. Thanks to a grant from the Disability Rights Fund, the European Network on Independent Living – ENIL was able to support disabled people in seven countries (Spain, Greece, France, Sweden, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria) to provide feedback on the draft Guidelines. These included people living in or with experience of institutionalisation, a parent and Independent Living activists. In addition, we prepared our own suggestions on how to strengthen the Guidelines. 

The CRPD Committee’s Working Group on Deinstitutionalisation was established almost two years ago, with the objective of drafting and adopting a set of global guidelines to help State Parties to the CRPD close down institutions and facilitate access to the right to independent living for all disabled people. This was followed by a set of regional consultations covering all the world regions, where disabled people and their organisations shared the key barriers to independent living and concerns related to deinstitutionalisation reforms or the lack of thereof. In September 2021, based on these consultations, an annotated outline of the Guidelines was published on the Committee’s website and the working group began drafting the full document. Opening the draft Guidelines for consultation in May 2022 was the final step of the process, with the expectation that the CRPD Committee will adopt the final document at its August – September session. The Committee has published all the submissions, including one by ENIL, on their website

ENIL, the International Disability Alliance, Inclusion International, Transforming Communities for Inclusion (TCI) Global, Disability Rights International, the Validity Foundation, Disability Rights Fund/Disability Rights Advocacy Fund and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria came together in 2020 as the Global Coalition on Deinstitutionalisation (GC-DI)  to support the Committee’s Working Group in the process of drafting and adopting the Guidelines. Among other, GC-DI helped ensure interpreting and translation into different languages, including International Sign and easy to read, during the two sets of consultations in 2021 and 2022. In addition, Inclusion International organised parallel consultations for self-advocates, making sure that the voice of people with intellectual disabilities was heard throughout the process. 

Guidelines on Deinstitutionalisation, including in Emergencies complement the Committee’s General Comment 5 and its Guidelines on liberty and security of persons under Article 19 CRPD. They are an important document that will help set a standard of what is a CRPD compliant deinstitutionalisation process and how to move away from institutions in a way which genuinely leads to the right to live independently and being included in the community. In addition, the Guidelines explain why deinstitutionalisation cannot stop during emergencies, such as COVID-19 or the war in Ukraine, for example. As such, they are an important addition to explanatory documents that help interpret and support the implementation of Article 19 CRPD and the related articles. 

ENIL is thankful to the support of Disability Rights Fund, which allows us to involve more disabled people in the consultation and will also support a number of dissemination activities after the Guidelines are adopted by the CRPD Committee this Autumn. As part of GC-DI, we plan to continue working together to ensure that State Parties, but also service providers, families, disabled people themselves, and other stakeholders, understand how to move away from institution and ensure that all children, adults and older people with disabilities can live included in the community.