The role of the Ombudsman in the implementation of CPRD in Hungary

Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities stipulates the establishment of a multi pillar control mechanism in order to fulfil national implementation and control. State Parties have to designate besides one or more focal points within government and the coordination mechanism within government a framework including one or more independent mechanism with regard to the legal status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights.

According to Section 1 paragraph (3) of the Act CXI of 2011 on the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights in the course of his activities the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights pays – especially by conducting proceedings ex officio –special attention to assisting, protecting and supervising the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, promulgated by Act XCII of 2007 in Hungary.

Provisions for disability, difficulties in parking, the situation of people living in residential care, the problems of freedom from obstacles, disputes related to employment, and generally the position of a child or adult with disabilities living in families raise several issues awaiting solution. During the past more than one decade (1998–2008) almost four hundred complaints of the fifty thousand submissions received by the Ombudsman’s Office were related to some kind of problems of disabilities. This is only 0.8 per cent of all the cases, and of those hardly one hundred contained some complaints related to working capability. Complaints were related to children living with disabilities in 30 cases, and parking by persons of impaired movement constituted 18 cases. The number of those complaints which were against some kind of monetary provision, contribution or fee was 113.

As the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights pays special attention to the rights and circumstances of the people living with disabilities in Hungary, besides investigating individual complaints, in 2009 the Commissioner carried out a comprehensive investigation concerning the social and legal environment of this vulnerable group.

Within the framework of the project “Differently with Dignity” – project on the rights of people with disabilities (2009-2010) the Commissioner inspected the situation and enforcement of the rights of people living with disabilities.

The basic thesis of the project was that no one can suffer any deficiency mainly because he/she lives with some kind of physical, communications or mental disability. The clumsiness of healthcare and social provision for people living with disabilities is commonly known together with contradictions in their employment and training. The main goal was to encourage a paradigm shift, global change of social attitude concerning their acceptance and inclusion.

We conducted several inquiries into the possible obstacles to participation in public life of persons living with disabilities, like problems related to the right to vote, challenges in daily and family life, forced mechanisms of guardianship that limits or bars legal capacity and the anomalies in the operation of residential mental health facilities, like psychiatric care institutions.

Other issues, like disability allowance, car parking difficulties, accessibility of public buildings and places, the hard difficulties of getting a job and the family life of adults and children living with disabilities raise several basic rights related questions and require attention.

The Ombudsman and his working group has had extremely fruitful cooperation with several civil organisations, among others with the National Federation of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SINOSZ), the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC), the Hungarian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (MVGYOSZ), the Regional Central Hungarian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted, or with the Hungarian Autistic Society (AOSZ).

Developing indicators to measure implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities

By Maria Ventegodt Liisberg, Danish Institute for Human Rights

The UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) requires that States work for inclusion and equal rights of persons with disabilities, but very little data exists about which policies work in practice. The gold indicators project seeks to identify a set of 10 statistical indicators, which will give an overview of the gap between persons with and persons without disabilities in relation to 10 key human rights.

The gold indicators project is a collaboration between the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Danish National Centre for Social Research and we are now working closely with the Danish government and Danish disability organisations to identify a Danish set of gold indicators. However, we hope very much that this set of indicators will be used in other countries and that we thereby will be able to compare efficiency of different policies.

For example, the UK has relatively strong protection against discrimination on the grounds of disability and even provides a duty for providers of goods and services to make reasonable adjustment to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities to goods and services. Denmark has no protection against discrimination on the grounds of disability out side of the labour market. If we had data showing clearly that persons with disabilities had better access to goods and services in the UK, it would be easier for us in Denmark to argue for strong protection against discrimination. We already do so, but we would have stronger weight behind our words if we had good statistics as well.

Also in a national context, data is important to create more momentum. Data collected regularly allows for measuring progress and lack here of. In the UK, the Equality and Human Rights Commission does this in relation to many different groups, including persons with disabilities. But in many countries, including Denmark, there is insufficient data measuring the gap in enjoyment of human rights of persons with and without disabilities.

There are many reasons for this. The first is that it is only recently that persons with disabilities have been recognised as a group subjected to discrimination and social exclusion. Before then disability was seen as a medical condition and not a common characteristic for a social group. The UN Washington Group on disability Statistics, the WHO and others are currently working on international standards for identifying persons with disabilities as a group for the purpose of collecting data.

Until now the data that has existed on persons with disabilities has been limited to specific groups of persons with disabilities, such as groups of persons with a specific medical diagnosis. Also the surveys have related mainly to economic and social rights, such as employment, education and health, and not so much to civil and political rights.

Our hope is that the set of just 10 gold indicators will be simple and feasible enough to be carried out in many countries, both in the EU and outside. We would also hope that Eurostat and perhaps the World Bank take a liking to the gold indicators and carry out the necessary surveys in many countries at once and on a regular basis. If so, it might even be possible to grade each country a one-figure disability coefficient inspired by the Gini-coefficient which measures income disparity.

So far we have chosen nine of the ten rights which will be covered by the gold indicators project. They have been chosen because together they cover all the main areas of the CRPD as well as covering some of the most significant human rights problems faced by specific groups of persons with disabilities, namely children with disabilities, persons with intellectual disabilities (independent living) and women with disabilities (violence against women with disabilities). We have also had to take into account that some rights are very difficult to quantify, such as article 13 on access to justice.

The indicators that we have chosen are: art. 5 on discrimination, art 8 on awareness, art 9 on accessibility, art 16 on freedom from violence, art. 19 on independent living, art 24 on education, art 25 on health, art 27 on employment, art 28 on social welfare and art 29 on political participation.

We are still not sure that we should have both an indicator on article 5 on discrimination and article 8 on awareness which will be relatively similar as it will deal with negative attitudes to disability. Is it a good idea to have an indicator on violence against women with disabilities? Would it be better to focus on use of forced treatment in psychiatry? The problem with this indicator is that so little data exists on this topic and that it doesn’t lend well to the idea of comparing persons with and persons without disabilities which is how the other indicators work.

Read more on the gold indicators here:

http://humanrights.dk/activities/our-work-denmark/disability/gold-indicators-crpd

Please let us know what you think of our project. All good ideas are welcome.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter on disability and human rights by sending me an e-mail.

Contact: Maria Ventegodt Liisberg,

Team Leader, Disability, PhD,

E-mail:  mvl@humanrights.dk

Get involved

National Human Rights Institutions (NRHIs) play a critical role in promoting the enjoyment of human rights without discrimination, including by persons with disabilities.  Some NHRIs have also assumed specific responsibilities to act as ‘independent mechanisms’ under Article 33.2 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, In this role NHRIs act as part of a framework tasked with promoting, protecting and monitoring implementation of the Convention.

This project, commissioned by the Asia Pacific Region of the ICC aims to produce a practical guide,  capable of inspiring and supporting NHRIs across the globe to engage successfully in protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities.

To do so effectively it must be challenging, pushing boundaries, while at the same time being grounded in the realities faced by NHRIs in different parts of the world.    Achieving this requires the active involvement of NHRIs and other interested stakeholders, including disabled people’s organisations, in the identification and sharing of ‘promising practices.’

Such promising practices may concern (but are not limited to) how NHRIs have or are:

  • Promoting ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
  • Advancing the rights of persons with disabilities via other international, regional or  domestic human rights treaties and legislation, such as the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights or the African Charter for Human and People’s Rights
  • Developing their role as ‘independent mechanisms’ under Article 33.2 (UNCRPD) to promoting, protecting and monitoring implementation of the Convention
  • Promoting awareness, understanding and respect for the human rights of persons with disabilities
  • Monitoring the human rights of persons with disabilities, including those residing in or confined to institutions
  • Measuring progress regarding implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities
  • Advising government’s and parliaments and producing reports concerning the rights of persons with disabilities
  • Hearing or considering complaints regarding the rights of persons with disabilities
  • Intervening via the use of amicus curiae submissions to the Courts regarding the rights of persons with disabilities
  • Involving persons with disabilities in their work, either in organisational governance, as staff, consultees or partners
  • Ensuring that they are accessible to persons with disabilities
  • Working with partner organisations to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities
  • The interactions of NHRIs with the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, whether via State examinations, the complaints procedure, thematic days of discussion, the evolution of general comments or other vehicles
  • Acting together at the ICC regional level or via other forums to improve their capacity or to collaborate in the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities

If you believe that your organisation has promising practice to share or would like to recommend that the practices of a national human rights institution are included as an example in the manual, please get in touch using the contact form below.

As the project develops it is hoped that NHRIs will contribute blogposts sharing their practices to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities.  Please get in touch if you are interested in contributing a post.