Romania: European Human Rights Commissioner says end discrimination against people with disabilities

Yesterday, Mr Nils Muižnieks, European Human Rights Commissioner, issued a report calling on the Romanian government to end the practice of segregating people with disabilities in institutions instead ensuring that they can live in the community. MDAC welcomes the report, including the Commissioner’s call to abolish guardianship and end the education of children with disabilities in segregated settings.

Mr Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Source: Council of Europe

The Commissioner expressed concern about the growing number of social care institutions in the country and the degrading conditions that many people with disabilities are forced to endure. Romania ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2009, placing it under an obligation to ensure that all people with disabilities can live in the community with support as required under Article 19. As MDAC noted earlier this year, the Romanian government has instead continued to build new segregating institutions with EU funding.

Highlighting the plight of people with disabilities who are frequently denied the right make decisions in their life, such as where they live or whether they consent to medical treatment, Mr Muižnieks called for Romania to abolish its system of guardianship. MDAC supports Mr Muižnieks call for Romania to introduce systems of supported decision-making in line with Article 12 of the CRPD, to ensure that people with disabilities can exercise their autonomy.

The placement of children with disabilities in segregated schooling was another issue requiring action by Romanian authorities. The majority of children with mental disabilities in the country are still placed in separate schools and denied the opportunity of interacting with their peers. The Commissioner called on the state to take action and ensure that all children can be educated in an inclusive environment, and noted that this could be achieved by providing supports in mainstream schools.

The findings and recommendations of the Commissioner reflect the concerns of MDAC and our partner organisations about the lack of progress in implementing international human rights standards for all persons with disabilities in the country. MDAC calls on the Romanian government to end the lifelong segregation of people with disabilities from society and take serious steps to implement its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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