“I have many such disadvantages”: European report launched

Today the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) launched a report on “Choice and control: the right to independent living”. The report is the first to present a European level evidence-base about how people with disabilities are often excluded from society, and what needs to be done to reverse this situation.

illustration: fra.europa.eu

The FRA report follows actions by other inter-governmental agencies, including a March 2012 report by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and an April 2012 report by the Europe Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. These, and the FRA report, contain a wealth of information about what the right means, how it is violated, and how it can be implemented. 

“Governments established FRA to provide evidence about human rights. Today it holds a mirror up to the authorities and says that the right to independent living is being systemically violated across the Union”, said Oliver Lewis, MDAC Executive Director. “Governments need to respond directly to the report by taking concrete actions to implement the right to independent living.”

The FRA report contains testimonies from people with disabilities across the EU:


  • “No matter what it is called, for me it is an institution”, said a Greek woman aged 52, who lives in a group home.
  • “I prefer to live outside institutions”, said a 44-year old woman with psycho-social disabilities in Bulgaria, “It is better to live in the community as in this way one can be among people, can find a job, can talk to people, and can laugh with them. But when one lives in an institution once cannot find anything.”
  • A woman with intellectual disabilities who is 49 years old and living in Germany said, “What bothered me was that everything personal is documented […] Did she have a male visitor? Did she have a female visitor? What time did the person come? What was the content of the conversation?”
  • A man with intellectual disabilities aged 53 from Hungary spoke for many people in highlighting how restrictions of legal capacity affects some of the most important aspects of life: “I am under comprehensive guardianship […] Yes. Because of this I cannot vote and we cannot get married either. I am not the only one with these problems, there are many of us. I cannot sign an employment contract; I cannot work so I have many such disadvantages”


The report is the culmination of a 16-month project, which the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights outsourced to a coalition of organisations which included the Mental Disability Advocacy Center. Desk research was carried out in 27 EU Member States. Interviews and focus groups with people with intellectual disabilities and people with psycho-social disabilities took place in nine Member States. The method of photovoice was also used, which involved giving interviewees a disposable camera and asking them to take photographs of human rights issues important to them. The report is available here: http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/media/pr-070612_en.htm

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