This year, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) are organizing a series of online regional consultations in order to gather insights to inform a draft Guidelines on Deinstitutionalization, including in emergencies. 

At the Caribbean and North American Regional Consultations, CASDA Board Members, Maddy Dever, Rebekah Kintzinger and Corey Walker, share their insights on institutionalization and deinstitutionalization in the times of COVID-19 with other self-advocates and disability organizations across the region. 

You can read CASDA’s full statement here.

1. What is the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?

The CRPD is a group of experts from across the world who are tasked with monitoring and evaluating how the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is being used in countries.

2. What is institutionalization? 

For years, many persons with disabilities have had no choice nor control over their lives. It was often assumed that people with disabilities could not live independently. It was believed, instead, that people with disabilities required medical treatment in institutions to rectify or cure them of their disabilities. Today, many persons with disabilities still have no choice nor control over how they live, oftentimes becoming isolated instead of receiving the supports needed that would allow them to live in the community. Many persons with disabilities have no choice but to live in institutions, group homes, mental health or psychiatric facilities, residential care establishments, prisons, among many others. Despite wishing to live independently, many are ultimately required to rely on others, resulting in little freedom.

People with disabilities have the right to live independently and to be included in the community, as outlined in the Convention. In 2014 the CRPD adopted a document called General Comment No. 5 to explain what independent living and being included in the community means, whereby “Social exclusion also engenders stigma, segregation and discrimination, which can lead to violence, exploitation and abuse in addition to negative stereotypes that feed into a cycle of marginalization of persons with disabilities.”

3. What is this consultation?

The Online Regional Consultations with the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a way for self-advocates and disability organizations to share their experiences and insights on the topic of the right to independent living and being included in the community, recognized in article 19 of the Convention.