Justice and equality

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an international human rights treaty, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2006. The UNCRPD sets out what countries need to do to ensure that people with disabilities (including autism) can exercise their human rights on a full and equal basis as everyone else. It is the first international human rights treaty of the 21st century, and disabled people were engaged and actively involved in its drafting, consultation and negotiation. To date, over 182 countries have ratified the Convention, along with the EU in 2010, meaning that they have signed onto the Treaty and agreed to make it part of their laws. It was officially ratified by Ireland in 2018.  

The UNCRPD makes sure that disabled people, who comprise over 20% of the world’s population and 13.5% of the population in Ireland, have access to the same rights as their non-disabled peers. It covers a wide range of areas where disabled people are discriminated against on a daily basis. The Convention should be used as a planning framework for both disability-specific laws and policies and for ensuring all laws are developed with disability in mind. As a result, the Convention emphasizes that every issue is a disability rights issue, and that disability rights issues are everybody’s issues. 

The UN Convention does not create any new rights, but it is really important for disabled people as it outlines the many steps necessary to ensure people with disabilities are included and engaged within their society, including how to proactively combat discrimination. 

Since the UNCRPD highlights the importance of lived experience and an overall shift towards the social model of disability instead of medical, it is an important resource for autism-friendly best practice. Countries who have signed onto the Convention must therefore consult with disabled people and their representative organizations (such as AsIAm, Down Syndrome Ireland and Inclusion Ireland) when developing laws and policies that impact the lives of disabled people.

For more information download the explainer or read it in full below:

AsIAm welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice on the subject of “Courts and Courthouses”. As Ireland’s National Autism Charity, we see the impact that access to justice has on the autistic community, which comprises at least one in 65 people, along with their families and supporters. 

The courts’ system/structure can often be a complex and oftentimes arduous and intimidating process for anyone, but it can be particularly daunting and overwhelming for autistic people. It has a real and substantial impact on our community’s ability to access justice in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and to fully exercise and vindicate their rights as Irish citizens. 

Download our submission here or read it below

Imagine having your capacity to make decisions, sign contracts, vote, defend yourself legally, choose supports or even medical treatment taken away simply because of your diagnosis. For many persons with disabilities, constant threat, and the consequences can be grave. Guardians may fail to act in their best interests through errors in judgement, or worse, may actively abuse their power.  Article 12 of the UNCRPD recognizes “that persons with disabilities have legal capacity on an equal basis with others. In other words, an individual cannot lose his/her legal capacity to act simply because of a disability.”

Depending on the person’s support needs, they may require assistance to make decisions beneficial for their health, wellbeing and dignity under the law. This may be through one trusted person or a network of people. Ireland is still developing an appropriate framework for assisted decision-making and AsIAm’s submission to the Oireachtas Committee aims to address the current model and offer constructive changes.

Download our submission here or read it in its entirety below. 

A national strategy to empower autistic people and their families nationwide remains AsIAm’s largest policy goal and the government’s proposed Autism Innovation Strategy represents the next step towards that goal. AsIAm and other advocacy groups are consulting with a newly formed Joint Oireachtas Committee to ensure the strategy is developed with community voices in mind.

You can read our submission to the committee in full below or download it here.

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