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Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopts General Comment on the Right to independent living

Committee on the Rights of Persons 
  with Disabilities

 29 August 2017

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today adopted its General Comment N°5 on Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on living independently and being included in the community.

Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community, with the freedom to choose and control their lives.  States parties must ensure the full enjoyment of this right by enabling persons with disabilities to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on and not oblige them to live in a particular living arrangement; make available a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community; and ensure that the community services and facilities for the general population were equally accessible and responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities.

In its consideration of the States parties’ reports, the Committee had observed implementation gaps and, to a certain extent, misconceptions about the right of persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community.  In order to address those concerns, and the concerns expressed during the day of general discussion held on 19 April 2016, the Committee set out to clarify the content of article 19 through its General Comment N° 5, with a special focus on (1) the right of persons with disabilities to choose their place of residence and where and with whom to live, (2) the right of persons with disabilities to in-home, residential and community support services, and (3) the right to community services and facilities available on an equal basis with the general population, responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities.

This General Comment N° 5 provides guidance to States parties in fulfilling their obligations under Article 19 of the Convention by providing an interpretative definition of the right to independent living and other key concepts such as “being included in the community”, “independent living arrangements”, “personal assistance” and others.  It also elaborates on the core obligations of States parties and the measures required to replace any institutionalized settings with independent living support services, and to repeal or reform discriminatory policies, laws and practices that prevent persons with disabilities from living independently and participating in the community.  The Committee drew on its jurisprudence developed in earlier General Comments and concluding observations.

The General Comment N° 5 contained in document CRPD/C/GC/5 will be shortly available here.

The adoption of this General Comment was an important achievement as article 19 was central to the Convention, said Theresia Degener, Committee Chairperson.  It provided States parties with much needed guidance for the realization of the right to independent living and particularly in clarifying that the institutionalization of persons with disabilities was not in compliance with this article.

The Committee will next meet in public at 5 p.m. on Friday, 31 August, to officially close its eighteenth session.
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