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Posts Tagged ‘people with disabilities’

Combating Hate Crimes Perpetrated Against LGBT Persons and Persons with Disabilities

March 31, 2010 6 comments

The Commencement Order for the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 was issued last week bringing the Act into force.  The legislation creates new statutory offences that protect victims who are attacked on the basis of their disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity in Scotland.   Specifically section 1 of the Act makes provision for offences aggravated by prejudice relating to disability (or presumed disability).  Section 2 of the Act makes provision for offences aggravated by prejudice relating to sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) or transgender (or presumed transgender) identity.  Under the Act where it is proven that an offence was motivated by malice or ill will towards a victim on the basis of their identity the court is required to take that motivation into consideration when determining the sentence to be imposed.   This legislation builds upon Scottish law on hate crimes carried out on the basis of race and religion or belief under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003.  Similar legislation is in force in England and Wales.

Read more…

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IHRC Report on John Paul Centre, Galway

March 30, 2010 1 comment

The Irish Human Rights Commission today released a lengthy report on an enquiry into conditions, services and care provided in the John Paul Centre in Galway. This is a residential centre for adults with severe to profound learning disabilities and the enquiry was conducted following a representation to the IHRC from concerned parents of residents. The report is very detailed and we hope in the following days to bring you some specialist commentary on it here at HRinI. Readers might also be interested in two previous posts on HRinI on standards of care in residential centres for people with disability: this post from Mary Keogh & Charles O’Mahony and this separate post from Charles.

In the course of the enquiry the IHRC found that there had been breaches of the residents’ human rights in respect of the failure to provide adequate services and care to the residents of the centre. In many ways, these failures are bound up with the lack of accountability mechanisms and the fact that such centres are unregulated and uninspected in spite of being state-funded. However, it seems clear from the report’s recommendations of which there are many) that the problems are envisaged by the IHRC as being more multi-disciplinary and multi-layered than ‘simple’ lack of inspection/regulation. From recommending the immediate ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the formation of tailored service agreements taking the needs of residents into account, the recommendations are wide-ranging. They are also important inasmuch as they highlight the various different stakeholders—the Departments of Health, Justice and Education, the HSE, the residents, the Brothers of Charity (who run the centre), the parents—whose input is required to provide a service that is truly fit for purpose and respectful of the rights and liberties of the residents.

The report is certainly welcome and there can be little doubt that its findings are replicated in similar centres throughout the country. The sooner the state moves on ensuring effective, properly resourced, respectful, appropriate, adequate and accountable levels of health and support service provision to people with disabilities in Ireland the better.

Guest Contribution: O’Mahony on Safeguarding People with Disabilities

March 9, 2010 2 comments

We are delighted to welcome this guest contribution from Charles O’Mahony of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway. This is cross posted from the Disability Law News blog. You can find out more about Charles on the guest contributors page.

Safeguarding Persons with Disability from Abuse and Exploitation

There is a growing awareness around abuse perpetrated against vulnerable groups in our society.  In particular, elder abuse and child abuse now seem to be firmly ingrained in public consciousness and in the consciousness of policy makers and legislators.  However, as we saw this week with the discussion and debate around the publication of the Report into the death of Tracey Fay problems remain in the provision of adequate protection and in the investigation and reporting of the states failings.  To see a blog post on this click here.

There is a feeling that the issue of abuse of persons with disabilities has not evolved to the same level of consciousness surrounding child and elder abuse.  For example, last month it was reported that more than 500 official complaints (approx three a week) over the past two and a half years have been made regarding abuse and mistreatment of persons with disabilities in residential settings.  To see a blog post on this click here.  The reaction to the report in the Irish Times was not on the scale that one might have expected (or hoped) and the level of debate not as insightful.  Following the report there was no perception of urgency in introducing mandatory standards and independent inspections of these services. Read more…

Inclusion should be at the heart of humanitarian responses

January 15, 2010 3 comments

The Haitian earthquake brings a stark reminder of how natural disasters can bring widespread devastation and loss to a country. This destruction is further compounded when disaster hits a country like Haiti where poverty is rife. Haiti ranks 149th of 179 countries in the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index and the majority of its citizens earn below US$2 per day.  As Haiti emerges from the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, a seemingly insurmountable task is ahead of aid agencies, NGO’s and humanitarian organisations. A global humanitarian response is currently underway, with a daunting task for agencies on the ground as they attempt to coordinate vast amounts of aid relief and get it to people who require it urgently. As with most humanitarian responses, the challenge to provide effective assistance to everyone can be difficult and this difficulty can be magnified when ensuring those with additional needs are included.

For the moment, discussions about policies and good practice may seem trivial in face of the current crisis in Haiti. It is vital in order to save lives however that there is an ongoing exchange of information and practice between mainstream humanitarian and disability organisations. It is a known fact that people with disabilities are the most vulnerable in natural disasters. A major challenge from the outset for those coordinating humanitarian assistance is the identification of people with disabilities as statistics and data remains limited for many countries. It is estimated that 7% of Haiti’s population (approximately 630,000 people) have a disability with over 50% under the age of 15. Alongside unreliable statistics, people with disabilities are generally isolated or marginalized from communities making them invisible to relief efforts. Research by the International Disability Rights Monitor after the Tsunami of 2004 found that despite dedicated, intensive and well-funded relief efforts that disabled people remained on the periphery of relief efforts. Contributing factors to this included lack of basic facilities such as inaccessible shelters (the absence of a ramp making temporary shelters inaccessible to people with mobility disabilities); and inaccessible communication systems, which spread word about food and medical distribution (informal networks of communication for most the part do not consider people with hearing impairments).

In addition to the inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian responses is the indisputable fact that natural disaster causes injuries, which can result in long term disability. For example, it is estimated due to the Pakistan earthquake of 2005, that 70,000 people were severely injured or disabled. These injuries can be physical resulting from spinal injuries or mental or emotional issues stemming from loss of life.

These research findings are not isolated. Advocates and disability organisations have been working to increase awareness about the practical needs of people with disabilities in emergency response situations. Partnership with humanitarian organisations like the Red Cross has proved crucial to furthering this goal. Training and models of good practice are important to raise awareness among humanitarian organisations on how to include people with disabilities in emergency response plans. Organisations such as Handicap International and Christian Blind Mission have developed toolkits, which provide advice and guidance on how to make sure responses are inclusive of the needs of people with disabilities.

Alongside advocacy efforts, legal and policy initiatives have also been developed. International organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank have a key role to play in raising awareness with their operational staff on inclusion of people with disabilities in emergency responses. Finally, from an international law perspective, Article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, on situation of risk and humanitarian assistance asks that state parties take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of disabled people in times of natural disasters.

The Convention, coupled with policy initiatives by humanitarian agencies, and good practices by disability organisations, provides the potential for an inclusive humanitarian response that is respectful of the human rights of people with disabilities and most importantly saves lives.