Is France respecting its international commitments with regard to people with disabilities? The National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), a national body responsible for monitoring France’s compliance with its human rights commitments and “advising” the public authorities on this issue, is not always answered. Two bills are in his sights; she therefore reminds the government to order in a declaration adopted unanimously during the plenary assembly of July 3, 2018.
Two laws on the spot
France will soon be examined by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will rule on the compliance of its policies with the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This review will come at a time when, during her visit in October 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur (article linked below) was alarmed by the French choice to address the situation of these citizens from the perspective of the assistantship and care and not fundamental rights, yet the most adequate way to guarantee full citizenship and equality. The CNCDH was pleased that the topic of disability emerges in the presidential campaign but, a year later, two bills feed its concerns and, according to it,“Testify to a lack of understanding of the principles promoted by the Convention” . This stance echoes a large wave of protests from the people concerned, supported by associations, the CNCPH (National Consultative Council for People with Disabilities) and the Defender of Rights. The particularity of the CNCDH is that it places this debate on non-negotiable ground, that of human rights.
ELAN: an obvious lure!
The first text criticized is the ELAN bill. One of the most contested measures provides for a move from 100% to 10% of housing accessible to people with disabilities in new construction, the others having to be “upgradeable” (articles linked below). According to the CNCDH, “this regression calls into question the principle of universal accessibility, guaranteed until now by the law of February 11, 2005, which provided that all premises must be accessible to all, without creating a ghetto or quotas, and by limiting additional costs by creating infrastructures that benefit everyone ”. As for the principle of “progressive” housing, it would mean the possibility of carrying out work at a lower cost in the housing in order to make it possibly accessible to disabled people. The transformation of the obligation of accessibility into the obligation of adaptability is an “obvious lure” , according to the commission, which will lead to “ additional discrimination in access to housing”. It recalls that this measure contravenes the principle of the choice of place of residence set out in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention, disabled people not being required to “live in a particular living environment” .
Professional future: the right to work
The second comes from the bill For the freedom to choose one’s professional future. The text provides for a major reform which could have many consequences on access to work, training, apprenticeship and measures to combat unemployment for people with disabilities. In particular, under the guise of simplification and modernization, the renovation of the obligation to employ disabled workers which is announced is likely to have direct effects on their access to employment. “However, if improvements can be made to the French system of integration through work, in many respects perfectible, they must tend towards better social and professional integration and be done in accordance with the, specifies the CNCDH. This article defends a “freely chosen right to work, on the basis of equality with others, in an open and accessible environment”.
Finally, article 44 of this law, relating to the accessibility of public websites, is also at the heart of its concerns; the commission intends to defend this obligation “without multiplying the possibilities of exceptions” . Behind these issues of housing and work, she concludes, it is the project of an inclusive society, based on respect for fundamental rights, which is called into question. Undermined ?