UN concerned about independent human rights monitoring in Europe

1 December 2011, Budapest (Hungary). MDAC welcomes a UN publication, out today, which highlights stark differences in the levels of commitment by European governments towards their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The report, commissioned by the Regional Office for Europe of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, compares implementation of Article 33 of the CRPD in all 27 EU Member States. This report comes eight months after MDAC published its “Building the Architecture for Change” guidelines on how States should implement Article 33.

“This report provides evidence of innovative involvement of people with disabilities in many countries, as well as evidence that some governments are either unaware of their treaty obligations or unwilling to take them seriously”, said Oliver Lewis, MDAC Executive Director. “The European Commission has a role in holding these governments to account, rather than convene conferences where best practices are discussed and worst practices are ignored.”

Article 33 is important because it obliges governments to (under paragraph 1) coordinate policy across government, (under paragraph 2) establish or designate an independent monitoring mechanism to make sure that the CRPD is being implemented, and (under paragraph 3) ensure that civil society takes part in the monitoring.

Unsurprisingly, the report found a great variety of practices across the EU. Hungary Italy, Lithuania and Slovenia were criticised because their monitoring mechanisms consist of advisory bodies of representatives of ministries and organisations of persons with disabilities and lack an independent national human rights institution.

The Hungarian situation is, perhaps, unique in the world. The National Council of Disability (NCD), a governmental advisory body, is the focal point for coordinating disability policy within and across government under Article 33(1) of the CRPD. In addition the government has designated it as the independent [sic] monitoring mechanism under Article 33(2) of the CRPD. Furthermore, the NCD excludes people with psycho-social disabilities, in violation of the definition of disability set out in the CRPD. The government is currently considering designating the Ombudsman as the Article 33(2) body. 

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