EU human rights agency calls on governments to support autonomy

MDAC welcomes a new publication by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), entitled “Legal capacity of persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with mental health problems

The report presents research analysis of laws and policies on legal capacity in the 27 Member States of the European Union (excluding Croatia which became a Member State this month). Of particular interest, the report presents information from interviews and focus groups with over 200 participants across in nine countries (Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom). The report also sets out how the person-centred approach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, “represents a significant departure from previous conceptions of the role and scope of legal capacity legislation.”

“The evidence is that Europeans with disabilities feel powerless under guardianship”, said Oliver Lewis, MDAC Executive Director. “A system where a person is labelled as incapable and then rendered powerless to decide on their own life is one which should be consigned to the dustbin of history. Governments need to reform their laws to repatriate power back to the individual, to respect autonomy and provide a range of community-based supports.”

MDAC was intensely involved in the sixteen-month period of data gathering and analysis which was commissioned by the FRA. Board Member Anna Lawson served as a member of the research team, and Oliver served as scientific director of the research project. MDAC will use the resultant report in its litigation and advocacy to make changes to people’s lives.


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