Justice, Equality and Safeguarding and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Research in Ireland and internationally shows that people with disabilities are more likely to experience crime. A number of Articles under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) relate to Access to Justice, Equality and Safeguarding, including Articles 12, 13, 14 and 16. They set out important provisions on equal recognition of disabled persons before the law, equal legal protection, equal access to justice and freedom from violence, exploitation and abuse.
The NDA’s Annual Conference 2020 explored the theme of Access to Justice under the UNCRPD, and we considered Article 13 across the various stages of the justice process, from initial contact with An Garda Síochána to probation. Presentations looked at related policy and programme activities such as communication supports, training for justice professionals, rehabilitation, education, and life and employment in the community after prison.
Article 12 obliges States Parties to ensure equal recognition before the law. Ireland aims to realise this Article through the commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which abolishes the wardship system, introduces a new framework of supports to empower a person to makes his or her own decisions, and protects and promotes a person’s will and preference. The NDA Annual Conference 2021 examined all aspects of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 and featured a wide range of speakers who will be responsible for ensuring its proper implementation, as well as a number of speakers whose lives will be directly impacted by the legislation.
Article 14 relates to liberty and security, and Article 16 is concerned with freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse. Safeguarding is an important element of disability services and structures and legislation are evolving in Ireland to promote safeguarding and to ensure our obligations under Articles 14 and 16 are met.
We have developed a series of in-depth papers on individual UNCRPD Articles. These papers detail the main data available relevant to specific Articles and provide an overview of key policies, programmes, services, supports and data that exist in the Irish context. Our paper on Article 13 is under development but our paper on Article 16 is published.