Reports on the Human Rights of People with Intellectual Disabilities and their Families in Central and Eastern European Countries
Supported by the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights of the European Commission, Aktion Mensch, Lebenshilfe Germany and a donation by the late Dr. Rosemary Dybwad and Prof. Gunnar Dybwad, Inclusion Europe has produced National Reports on the Human Rights of people with intellectual disability in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. We have also looked at the situation in two neighbour countries of the enlarged European Union, Belarus and the FYR of Macedonia.
The objectives of these activities were
- to strengthen the political capacity of NGOs and to ensure more active participation in decision-making processes concerning persons with intellectual disabilities;
- to introduce NGOs to the European disability policy and make sure that persons with intellectual disability from Central and Eastern Europe are part of it;
- to raise awareness of the Governments at national and European level about the human rights of persons with intellectual disability in Central and Eastern Europe.
After the accession of many of these countries to the European Union, we can say that these activities have been an outstanding success. This was due to the fact that we have not only produced reports, but that our members have engaged in active political lobbying to improve the situation of people with intellectual disability in their country. The findings of the National Reports have later been confirmed by organisations like Amnesty International, the European Disability Forum, and the Open Society Institute’s Mental Disability Advocacy Programme.
The policy engagement of the national associations for people with intellectual disability in our partner countries at local, national and European level has lead to significant improvements of the situation of people with intellectual disability and their families. It has also strengthened the recognition of disability NGOs in policy work and brought the situation of disabled people on the policy agenda of the enlargement of the European Union.
Günter Verheugen, former European Commissioner on Enlargement, said at a meeting with Inclusion Europe: “We have already undertaken a number of initiatives to ensure that this group of people and their families are not forgotten in the enlargement of the European Union but will belong to the winners of enlargement in the medium and long term. Inclusion Europe contributed to this policy. Its excellent reports, both by Inclusion Europe and also by its member organizations in accession countries and in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have provided us with important information for action and I wish to express my gratitude and my appreciation for the close co-operation we have established.”
An also produced Comparative Report between the different countries involved in this important exercise shows that the situation of people with intellectual disability and their families in the new Member States, accession countries and neighbouring countries is far from satisfactory. While also in the past European Union with 15 Member States much remains to be done, it can be concluded that significant political commitment and investments are necessary to achieve similar conditions for disabled people in the new Member States. Inclusion Europe and our members will actively participate in the creation of better conditions for people with intellectual disability and their families in Central and Eastern Europe.
- Human Rights for Persons with Intellectual Disability in Central and Eastern European Countries. A comparative report
Report analysing the human rights situation for people with intellectual disabilities in the EU accession countries in Central and Eastern European countries. Inclusion Europe, Brussels, 2004.
- Results of surveys in different Central and Eastern European Countries which were held to determine to which extent the country has implemented the UN Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities of Persons with Disabilities.