Amendment to French health law threatens the rights of people with disabilities
Published: 20 April 2015
|Unapei protested against a law some members of the French Parliament want to have. Unapei is a French organization representing persons with intellectual disabilities and their families.
The law said that the French government should decide to help people with disabilities based on how much money the government has.
UNAPEI and other organisations said this rule does not respect the rights of people with disabilities, because they will not get the kind of support they need, when they need it.
Unapei asked the Parliament to change this idea.
UNAPEI has recently spoken out against a new amendment to the French health bill that could have threatened the rights of people with disabilities. The draft article aimed at establishing a system of permanent referral of people with disabilities that would not have respected their rights. Specifically, it implied that assistance for people with disabilities would no longer be determined according to their needs, but according to the available resources.
In 2013, French public authorities were sanctioned for not having provided suitable support to a young woman with complex and severe disabilities, in what is known as the Amelie case. Following that, a report commissioned by the government was published in 2014, sharing concrete recommendations that addressed the situation of the many people with disabilities left with no adequate support. One of the recommendations of the report was the creation of a system of permanent double referral. This means that a first referral is made according to the needs of the person, establishing his/her rights,
and, next, if and only if this referral cannot be implemented, a second referral is made based on available resources.
The amendment promoted by Members of the Parliament was a variation to this, as it only focused on the referral based on available resources, shooting down the first referral based on the needs of the person.
Several concerned organisations thus feared serious abuses, such as forced placements in unsuitable structures, and even relocation to Belgium as the only proper option to provide care and support. It was argued that the amendment would have allowed the French government to ignore the needs of people with disabilities, and therefore it was regarded as an infringement of their rights.
Christel Prado, President of UNAPEI has protested stating that ‘France is gradually sinking into a policy of hiding the problems that people with disabilities and their families face, instead of properly addressing them. For example, by sending them to Belgium and by refusing to mobilize the necessary resources.’
In the end, the Parliament decided to delete the controversial amendment. Unapei remains watchful and has asked the Government to establish a system of double referral as recommended in the PIveteau report.
To find out more about the amendment, click here.
To find out more about Unapei, click here.