“Article 19” refers to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Article 19 – Living independently and being included in the community.
The background to the project is that many people with disabilities are still in situations lacking self-determination in their daily lives and being excluded from participation in society. Although Sweden has formally phased out institutions, there are now fears that they are on the rise again due to cutbacks in personal assistance.
The concept of institution is not about a certain type of building, but of being deprived of freedom and control. Even small group homes and people living in their own accommodation can being deprived of freedom and control if, for example, they share staff or have little influence over their daily lives.
Sweden has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and is obliged to implement the rights under the convention. The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities continue to develop the understanding of the rights under the CRPD. The Committee’s General Comment no 5 on Article 19 (GC 5) makes clear that segregated dwellings where disproportionately many people with disabilities must share the same environment should not be allowed. The notion that people with intellectual disabilities would not be able to live outside a group home or similar is also contrary to Article 19, according to GC 5. The General comment is clear on your right to decide what services you need and what daily activities you will participate in.
So how well does Sweden live up to the clarifications expressed in GC 5? Does life in group housing or service housing, for example, meet the requirements of Article 19? And how is it with Conservatorship or Guardianship and influence on daily activities?
The project is now into its final months.
The Law as a Tool (In Swedish: Med lagen som verktyg) is a both the name of an ILI project (2016 - 2019) and a Swedish organization spreading awareness and legal expertise on discrimination due to disability and defending the rights of people with disabilities.
Too little attention has been paid to implementation of the disability discrimination law, in particular the need to involve the disability community in enforcement of the law. Civil society can and should help to ensure that the law is implemented so that case law can develop.
Case law is needed for both fulfilling the law´s reparative function in individual cases and the prevention of future discrimitation. Role models like DREDF (USA) and Bizchut (Israel) have demonstrated that civil society can play a role in both developing legislation and enforcing the law.
The Law as a Tool (In Swedish: Med lagen som verktyg) is a Swedish civil society organization aiming to defend and advance human rights for people with disabilities and counter the discrimination of the same group in Sweden.
The organization contributes to case law by taking on cases where members have been discriminated against due to disability. The Law as a Tool pays all costs related to the litigation with money from membership fees and donations.
You find more information at the website of the organisation. We do not have the resources to translate our webpage to English, but we strongly encourage non-Swedish speaking citizens of or visitors to Sweden to contact us if you are discriminated against in Sweden.
Chairman Susanne Berg
The project The Law as a Tool for Social Change is owned by Independent Living Institute and runs March 2016-February 2019 with support from the Swedish Inheritage Fund. It aims to raise awareness of discrimination due to disability and the possibilities and pitfalls concerning cases. It provides general assistance to attorneys taking on disability discrimination cases and offer education and support.