COFACE Disability members, UNAPEI and APF France Handicap, filed a collective complaint in 2018 to the Council of Europe’s Committee on Social Rights about the failure of the French State to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities. The Council of Europe has now pronounced itself.
Lack of support and shortage of support services, socio-economic injustices, difficulty in accessing housing and health care, but also the refusal of schooling…The freedom and dignity of people with disabilities are hindered, their rights are violated by the French State. The Council of Europe has now declared this. This statement is the result of a collective complaint filed by Unapei, APF France handicap, Unafam and FNATH in the face of the French State’s failure to respect its obligations towards people with disabilities and their families. The NGOs welcome this decision and hope that it will not remain yet another forgotten report about disability policies. They underline the urgent need to reform the country’s disability policy in its entirety and demand immediate measures. In 2023, the fact that people with disabilities still experience these injustices on a daily basis is intolerable.
“We are proud to see that our work is finally coming to fruition! It is a recognition of our actions and of our determination to change things. However, we cannot be fully satisfied, because it is a recognition of the French State’s failure to ensure a dignified and chosen life for people with disabilities and their families. There remains work for the French government so that people with disabilities – whether physical, motor, intellectual or psychological – can at last benefit from the same rights as other citizens.” From the presidents of the four NGOs that lodged the complaint1 .
The findings of the Council of Europe’s Social Rights Committee
The Council of Europe’s Committee of Social Rights thus recognised the violation by the French State of its obligations towards people with disabilities and their families (international obligations and its own responsibilities) in a decision handed down in December 2022 after months of examination and unveiled on April 17th 2023.
The Council of Europe demonstrates that in all areas of life, people with disabilities are hindered in the exercise of their rights. It confirms that these obstacles have negative consequences on the lives of families, who compensate for the shortcomings to the detriment of their physical, psychological, economic, professional, and social balance.
The lack of access to adequate support services, public services and transport, schooling, housing and health care, as well as the lack of sufficient resources to live in dignity, hinders on a daily basis the possibility for people with disabilities to live in an autonomous and chosen way, like other citizens.
The decision also shows the failure of the State to guarantee people with disabilities and their families effective protection against discrimination –in school, to access health care, housing or in their everyday life. With this decision, the Committee also recalls what is expected of the French State to guarantee the effectiveness of the rights set out in the European Social Charter.
“Reinforced by the Council of Europe’s decision, we will continue our actions and will not hesitate to put pressure on political decision-makers, both during the National Disability Conference, but also at the highest level of the State and with local elected representatives and members of parliament. We are more determined than ever to build a truly inclusive society that respects the rights of everyone, without exception. There is a lot of work to be done, but together, it is possible. Presidents of Unapei, APF France Handicap, Unafam and FNATH.
Read the full press release pdf available here.
1.Pascale Ribes, President of APF France handicap, Sophie Crabette, Deputy Secretary General of FNATH, Marie- Jeanne Richard, President of Unafam, Luc Gateau, President of Unapei.