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Joe Kelly charts the progress of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities / 12 April 2010

In March 2009 I attended the World Network of Service Users and Survivors of Psychiatry [WNUSP] Conference in Uganda, Africa. The main business of the conference was the CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This Convention was originally signed in the United Nations, New York in 2007.

Since then I have been tracing its progress through our own system. It has been ratified by our government and recently I attended a conference by the Office for Disability Issues [ODI] at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster. The Convention is quite a bulky document - about 47 pages in length and it covers a total of 18 articles.

The articles which effect User / Survivors are:
Article 12: Equal Recognition before the Law  - recognises our legal capacity to give us full human rights. 
Article 14: Liberty and Security of the person - protects our liberty from being forcibly detained. 
Article 15: Freedom from torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment - safeguards us from torture including forcible medication. 
Article 19, (not shown here) asserts our right to live independently in the community.

I have highlighted the most essential aspects of the articles below. I would very much appreciate your response to this important document and the rights detailed in this document.

Article 12: Equal recognition before the law

  1. States parties reaffirm that persons with disabilities have the right to recognition everywhere as persons before the law.

  2. States parties shall recognize that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life.

  3. States parties shall take appropriate measures to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.

  4. States parties shall ensure that all measures that relate to the exercise of legal capacity provide for appropriate and effective safeguards to prevent abuse in accordance with international human rights law. Such safeguards shall ensure that measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity respect the rights, will and preferences of the person, are free of conflict of interest and undue influence, are proportional and tailored to the person’s circumstances, apply for the shortest time possible and are subject to regular review by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body. The safeguards are proportional to the degree to which such measures affect the person’s rights and interests.

  5. Subject to the provisions of this article, states parties shall take all appropriate and effective measures to ensure the equal right of persons with disabilities to own or inherit property, to control their own financial affairs and to have equal access to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit, and shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not arbitrarily deprived of their property.

  6. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others: (a) Enjoy the right to liberty and security of person; (b) Are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty.

  7. States Parties shall ensure that if persons with disabilities are deprived of their liberty through any process, they are, on an equal basis with others, entitled to guarantees in accordance with international human rights law and shall be treated in compliance with the objectives and principles of this Convention, including by provision of reasonable accommodation.

Article 15: Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

  1. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his or her free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.

  2. States parties shall take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The authorities are obliged to promote knowledge of this convention.

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