Following the collective complaint filed by EDF and Inclusion Europe in 2018 to the Council of Europe’s Committee on Social Rights, France’s violation of the rights of persons with disabilities is established.
The complaint was filed on behalf of French organisations Unapei, APF France handicap, Unafam and FNATH.
The Council of Europe has now declared the lack of support and shortage of support services, socio-economic injustices, difficulty in accessing housing and health care, but also the refusal of schooling. The freedom and dignity of people with disabilities are hindered, their rights are violated by the French state.
This finding is the result of a collective complaint launched by by EDF and Inclusion Europe (on behalf of Unapei, APF France handicap, Unafam and FNATH) regarding the failure of the French State to respect its obligations towards people with disabilities and their families. The NGOs welcome the decision of the Council of Europe and hope that it will not remain yet another forgotten report about disability policies. NGOs underline the urgent need to reform our country’s disability policy in its whole and demand immediate measures. In 2023, the fact that people with disabilities still experience these injustices daily is intolerable.
“We are proud to see that our work is finally coming to fruition! It is a recognition of our actions and of our determination to change things. However, we cannot be fully satisfied, because it is a recognition of the violation of the rights of people with disabilities, and an affirmation of the failure of the French State to ensure that people with disabilities and their families enjoy a dignified life where they can make their own choices. There remains work for the French government so that people with disabilities – whether physical, motor, intellectual or psychological – can at last benefit from the same rights as other citizens.” Pascale Ribes, President of APF France handicap, Sophie Crabette, Deputy Secretary General of FNATH, Marie-Jeanne Richard, President of Unafam, Luc Gateau, President of Unapei.
6 key areas to evolve for the respect of rights
The Council of Europe confirms that the French authorities have not put in place support adapted to the needs and expectations of all people with disabilities. Too many people are still without adapted solutions. The NGOs are calling for reliable figures and data to identify and quantify needs and to develop action plans to meet them.
Resources and compensation
The Council of Europe confirms that the standard of living of people with disabilities and their families is lower on average than that of the rest of the population, which constitutes a profound socio-economic injustice. The NGOs are calling for measures to increase the standard of living of people with disabilities, who are particularly affected by inflation. They demand the financial revaluation of allowances, benefits and compensations to enable them to live a dignified, chosen, autonomous and included life in society, without any break in their path.
The Council of Europe confirms that the principle of accessibility, provided for in the law since 1975 and 2005, is still not respected. Worse, the obligations of the State and its services in terms of accessibility have regressed in all areas and the new regulations postpone indefinitely the real implementation of accessibility. The NGOs are calling for public and private actors to work together to make all the travel chains accessible and allow people, whatever their disability, to access public services and transport, as well as adapted housing. To achieve this, not only the building itself, but also signage and information must be improved.
The Council of Europe confirms that people with disabilities are discriminated against in accessing care, among other reasons, because emergency and health care services do not respond adequately to the needs of people with disabilities. The NGOs demand that the whole health care offer is adapted to all disabilities, without any additional costs for people, accessible within a reasonable time, and that care is provided in accordance with the rights of the patient.
The Council of Europe confirms that many pupils with disabilities are still being educated “badly” or not at all. The NGOs are calling for access to education, but above all for a global reflection on the accessibility of the school system and its truly inclusive character, including the adaptation of teaching methods, tools, materials and the rhythm of the day. This requires training and support for teachers by providing them with all the necessary means.
The Council of Europe confirms the shortcomings of the French State in protecting families, whose personal and professional lives are still too often impacted by the lack of generalised accessibility and the lack of specialised support, which prevent their disabled relative from leading an autonomous and included life in society. The NGOs demand that France finally comply with its commitments and its own legislation in order to remove the obstacles that create and aggravate situations of disability in society, and so that the fundamental rights of people and their families are respected.
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