|The European Court of Human Rights (in short ECHR)
makes sure that human rights are respected in Europe.
Some people are saying that the rights of persons with disabilities
and their families are not respected in Romania.
They say people with disabilities cannot choose their personal assistants.
Personal assistants also work too much and are not paid enough.
They are asking the ECHR for help.
The first case regarding the access of people with disabilities to personal assistance has been brought to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with Radi vs. Romania. The recently filed complaint vehemently contests the manner in which personal assistance is being facilitated to persons with disabilities in Romania. According to the plaintiffs, the Romanian state is in direct violation of Articles 4 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, prohibiting slavery and forced labour, and guaranteeing respect for one’s private and family life.
Family members are the main providers of personal care in Romania, regardless of the preferences or special needs of persons with disabilities. Therefore, the system of personal assistance currently in place does not promote independent living for people with disabilities, and furthermore, forces family members, and predominantly female family members, to stop working and assume the role of permanent carers. Despite the fact that, in Romania, personal assistants are public sector employees, they are prevented from taking advantage of most of the rights present in the country’s Labour Code. Additionally, they are only paid minimum wage indifferent of their professional qualifications and experience, or number of working hours. Even worse, in many instances their right to rest is being infringed as well, as carers are often offering services on a round the clock basis.
The plaintiffs assert that the immediate effect of this system of personal assistance is the perpetual social isolation people with disabilities. The latter are neither individually assessed, nor consulted when their care plan is devised, and they are not involved in recruiting, training or managing their personal assistants. Furthermore, all assistants are paid a salary too meagre to present any appeal for the qualified personnel on the labour market.
Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) guarantees “access to a range of in-home, residential or other community support services including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation”. The UN CRPD has been ratified by the European Union and most member states, including Romania. In the opinion of the plaintiffs, this case not only raises serious issues regarding the manner in which personal assistance is being made available in Romania and its direct consequence on social exclusion and discrimination, but offers the ECHR a viable opportunity to create a juridical precedent regarding the right of persons with disabilities to receive the support needed to live in the community.
For further information, please contact Mr. Constantin Cojocariu, the official representative of the plaintiffs, at the following e-mail address: email@example.com.
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