I am taking precious time out of my campaigning for the General Election to share the following email from the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL), concerning independent living with my readers on International Human Rights Day.
I do not fail to see the heartbreaking irony of posting the following email that concentrates on EU funding for independent living at a time when certain sections of the UK seem obsessed with Brexit, never mind the consequences.
I won’t go into the rights and wrongs of Brexit at this point, but I just wanted to share the following email as a show of solidarity to my European brothers and sisters.
In Brussels, 10 December 2019 – To mark the International Human Rights Day, the European Network on Independent Living – ENIL is launching its second Myth Buster, this time on “EU Funds and Independent Living”. Illustrated by our European Solidarity Corps volunteer, Hatiye Garip, and published as part of the “EU Funds for Our Rights” Campaign, the booklet challenges the most common misconceptions about how EU taxpayers’ money is used with regard to disabled people. It is aimed at all those advocating for EU Funds to be used to support disabled people’s right to live independently and to be included in the community.
Despite ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Member States and the European Commission continue investing in institutions for disabled children and adults. “Those people have nowhere to go and no one to take care of them”, “Small group homes are just a transitional measure”, “Not all EU funded projects are 100% perfect” are among the excuses that Independent Living advocates hear. The result is continuing human rights violations against disabled people, funded by the European Union – as witnessed by Al Jazeera in last week’s hard hitting documentary.
EU Funds have great potential to improve the quality of life of disabled people when used well. They can contribute to the closure of institutions and improve access to community-based services, including personal assistance, early intervention services, housing, education, employment, health care and transport. On the other hand, when misused, EU funds can further delay the process of deinstitutionalisation and lead to segregated facilities being in use for years to come.
It is time for the Member States and the European Commission to take their human rights obligations seriously. We hope that this Myth Buster will serve as a useful tool to all those human rights defenders working to make Governments and the European Union accountable for their actions.
Download the Myth Buster here