UN: European Union must stop financing disability institutions

The UN disability committee has told the European Union to stop funding segregation of people with disabilities. This adds to the pressure on the European Commission to finally begin a process of rehabilitation and restitution for the thousands of victims of its erroneous and unlawful spending spree that has resulted in their life-long segregation in institutions.

Child strapped to chair in Romanian institution

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) are EU money supposed to help states tackle social and development related problems. But tens of millions of Euros of these Funds have paid for the renovation of old institutions and the building of new institutions that warehouse people with disabilities. Institutions famous for perpetuating violence and human rights violations have been given huge amounts of money to paint their walls and buy new furniture.

MDAC has intervened on several occasions to stop European taxpayers’ money to be spent in the wrong way. We have investigated the money flow, advocated directly with the European Commission, and suppliedthe European Ombudsman with information. After the back-and-forth between the CRPD Committee and the EU’s representatives two weeks ago, we summarised 7 things we learned about the EU’s disability rights record.

In its official outcome document, the CRPD Committee found that EU funding mechanisms, “continue being used for maintenance of residential institutions rather than for development of support services for persons with disabilities in local communities.” It went further, demanding that the EU “suspend, withdraw and recover payments” that fund human rights abuses like institutions. MDAC maintains its position explained in a recent public letter and  interprets this recommendations as including a requirement for the EU to commit to providing restitution, recognition, reparations and compensation to persons with disabilities in institutions which have received EU financing, in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 60/147.

The CRPD Committee also recommended the EU to ratify the Optional Protocol to the CRPD. This would allow individuals with disabilities to complain to the CRPD Committee if they consider their rights have been violated by the EU or by EU law and they have tried all legal means to seek redress. This would help the hundreds of thousands of people in EU-funded institutions to get justice that they deserve. 

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