United Nations Special Rapporteur: France must “act to end segregation and inequality for people with disabilities”

United Nations Special Rapporteur: France must “act to end segregation and inequality for people with disabilities”

Catalina Devandas- UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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“To achieve equal citizenship for persons with disabilities, France needs to end segregation and move towards inclusive services and support in the community”, UN disability rights expert Catalina Devandas has said.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities made her first official visit to France on October 3-13th. During the visit, Ms Devandas assessed the situation of persons with disabilities in the country regarding topics such as community-based living and legal capacity.

According to the Special Rapporteur, “while [France] invests significant resources to address inequalities faced by people with disabilities, efforts in this area are highly […] segregated.”


“People with disabilities have the right to live in their communities”

Ms Devandas expressed serious concern about the high number of French people with disabilities living in residential institutions – at least 300,000 in France itself and another 6,500 in Belgium, including 1,500 children.

“People with disabilities, including those with high support needs, have the right to live in their communities, to choose their place of residence and with whom they live,” she emphasized.

The Special Rapporteur urged the French government to close all institutions as soon as possible and switch to community-based support, including adequate housing. Moving children out of institutions should be a political priority, she added, and the government should consider a moratorium on new admissions.


Some children with disabilities receive no education at all

Also on the subject of children with disabilities, Ms. Devandas recognized France’s work to include them in mainstream schools, but said the system would need a significant transformation to achieve inclusive education for all. Most children in residential institutions did not receive quality education, while others received no education at all, she noted.

“France is a country with a strong tradition of republican and democratic values, resting on the ideals of ‘freedom, equality and fraternity’. Disability policies in France need to embrace these ideals to guarantee the full inclusion of all people with disabilities in society, endowing them with more opportunities to live the lives they choose to live.

“Full citizenship won’t be a reality until some 750,000 people with disabilities who are under guardianship or tutorship in France, many of whom are deprived of their right to vote, have their legal capacity restored”, she added.


“France needs to carefully revise and transform its system”

Ms. Devandas also noted that autistic people and those with psychosocial disabilities are systematically hospitalized or receive psychiatric treatment without consent. She reminded the government that deprivation of legal capacity and any type of involuntary treatment are contrary to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The UN Special Rapporteur will present a report on the main findings of her visit to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2019.


Easy-to-read version

Click on a word which is in bold to read what it means.


France needs to make things equal for people with disabilities  

and to end people having to live in institutions. 

This is what Catalina Devandas has said. 


Catalina Devandas is a United Nations Disability Rights Expert. 

Catalina Devandas visited France in October.  

While she was in France Ms. Devandas was looking at how 

people with disabilities in France live.  

She was looking at things such as  

independent living and legal capacity 


Ms. Devandas said that France uses lots of money 

to try and make things equal for people with disabilities.  

But France does some things for people with disabilities  

in some parts of the country 

and other things in other parts of the country. 

This is bad for people with disabilities. 

People with disabilities should get the same help 

everywhere in France. 


Ms. Devandas also has talked about how bad it is 

that so many French people with disabilities  

are living in institutions 


There are lots of French people with disabilities  

living in institutions in France and in Belgium.  

There are also lots of children with disabilities living in institutions 

Ms. Devandas said that people with disabilities 

need to have the right to live independently and choose  

where they live and who they live with.  

They should also have this right if they have high support needs.  



Ms. Devandas said that the French government needs to  

close down all institutions.

France should try to help people live in the community. 

This includes helping children not have to live in institutions. 


Ms. Devandas also talked about the topic of children with disabilities.  

She said that the French government is trying to make sure  

that children with disabilities learn together at school  

with children without disabilities.  

Even though the government is trying to include children with disabilities 

she said the system still needed to be changed. 

The system still needs to be changed  

because some children with disabilities do not get a good education. 

And some do not get an education at all. 


Ms. Devandas said that France needs to help with equality for everyone 

because equality is something which France says is important.   

She said that France needs to focus on equality  

for people with disabilities.  


Ms. Devandas said that people with disabilities  

cannot be equal under guardianship. 

She also said that people with disabilities 

need full legal capacity to be equal.  


There are lot of people with disabilities in France  

who do not have full legal capacity 


Ms. Devandas also talked about how people with autism  

and other disabilities are often put in hospital. 

In hospital they receive treatment 

even if they do not want this.   

This is not right. 


Ms. Devandas said that when France treats people this way, 

this is against the UN CRPD.   

It is also against the UN CRPD 

when people with disabilities do not get full legal capacity. 


In 2019, Ms. Devandas will present more of what she discovered  

during her visit.