Law and Justice

Effective law and justice programs, including laws which promote rights and measures which support equal access to justice, contribute to facilitating and achieving other development goals for persons with disabilities by supporting rights across all aspects of life. Failure to consider and implement disability inclusive law and justice programs can further entrench and exacerbate marginalisation and disempowerment of persons with disabilities in the legal system. Legislation relating to the legal capacity of persons with disabilities is a significant issue.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) sets a benchmark for access to justice by persons with disabilities globally. Law and justice programs that are disability sensitive will contribute toward the outcomes provided for in the UNCRPD, including "effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others ... in order to facilitate their effective role as direct and indirect participants, including as witnesses, in all legal proceedings" and to "promote appropriate training for those working in the field of administration of justice, including police and prison staff" (Article 13).

Law and justice programs may also support monitoring of rights provided for in the UNCRPD by independent monitoring mechanisms (such as human rights institutions) and by Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) (Article 33).

Working with governments, judiciary, correctional services, DPOs, civil society, local developmental leaders, and coalitions can bring about effective, positive and enabling change.

The resources below include baseline studies to assist law and justice programming decisions, guides to assist better understanding of the rights provided for in the UNCRPD and position papers on access to justice. There is a lack of published online good practice examples or case studies improving access to justice for persons with disabilities through development assistance, and this is a current gap. Resources on good practice will be added as they become available.

See also: Governance and Violence against women and girls.

Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (2016) Human rights in the Pacific- A situational analysis

This report provides a situation analysis of the status of human rights in the Pacific region, including in respect of disability rights. Although it is not intended to be an assessment of the human rights situation in each country, it sheds light on human rights issues and gaps in countries, and provides information for decision-makers, including for planning by governments to better protect, promote and advance human rights. It would be a useful resource to assist situation analysis for law and justice programs and to help identify areas where disability rights can be improved.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT) (2014) Regional Gender & the Law Outcomes Document

This Outcomes document was produced at the 2014 Regional Gender and the Law Week Consultation held in Nadi, Fiji 17-21 November 2014, attended by over 42 lawyers and legal professionals from Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, by civil society and the Pacific Disability Forum. It strongly references global and regional rights frameworks and calls upon Pacific Island country governments to address structural, legislative and cultural barriers to ensure access to justice for persons with disabilities – with four specific recommendations to achieve this. It encourages regional and international partners to continue working with Governments and civil society to advance and progress work on laws, policies and attitude changes. Useful to reference in policy and programming responses and advocacy on ending violence against women with disability and improving access to law and justice.

Colbran N (2010) Access to justice for persons with disabilities - Background assessment report

This background assessment report, prepared for the Australian Aid program’s Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Justice, examines issues associated with access to justice for persons with disabilities in Indonesia. It highlights the real barriers to justice faced by persons with disabilities. Further, it provides a helpful example of a baseline study to inform programming and identify issues to be addressed by law and justice programs to address the needs and rights of persons with disabilities.

International Disability Alliance (2009) Contribution to the Office of the UNHCHR thematic study to enhance awareness on the structure and role of national mechanisms for the implementation and monitoring of the CRPD

In this submission, the International Disability Alliance (the global umbrella body for all international peak organisation DPOs) sets out its views on national implementation and monitoring of the UNCRPD with special reference to Article 33 of the UNCRPD. Evidence shows that whilst many States have disability focal points and coordinating bodies for disability within Government, many were established prior to the UNCRPD and very few of these have been revised in the light of the UNCRPD. Independent monitoring is an absolutely new approach in most States and poses specific challenges. The submission acknowledges that solutions will vary among countries, but provides guidance on how States Party could implement an infrastructure that effectively contributes to the full implementation of the UNCRPD and do so involving representative organisations of persons with disabilities.

UNDP (2012) Guidance Note: Applying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in UNDP Programming

The main objective of these guidelines is to provide guidance on how to contribute to realising the rights of persons with disabilities through the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) policies, projects and programs. It deals with why and how to use the UNCRPD and how to include persons with disabilities as stakeholders. It serves as a reference for government and non-government national partners and other development partners – i.e. how an agency can apply the UNCRPD to all elements of programming.

Humanity & Inclusion Source: Key List on Disability, Human Rights and the Convention

Source is a comprehensive and frequently updated online resource centre on disability inclusion. Its key list on Human Rights and the UNCRPD contains a range of resources relevant to this sector including implementation and monitoring tools, training manuals, tools for advocacy, policy documents and links to other useful websites to support law and justice programs.

UN DESA, OHCHR and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2007) From Exclusion to Equality: Realising the rights of persons with disabilities - Handbook for parliamentarians on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol

Parliaments and parliamentarians have a key role to play in promoting and protecting human rights. This Handbook aims to assist parliamentarians and others by raising awareness of the UNCRPD and its provisions, promoting an appreciation of disability concerns, and assisting parliaments to understand the mechanisms and frameworks needed to translate the UNCRPD into practice. This practical guide can assist countries in identifying issues requiring consideration as they work toward ratification of (and compliance with) the UNCRPD.

International Disability Alliance (2013) Submission to the CEDAW Committee’s General Discussion on Access to Justice, 54th session

This submission sets out IDA’s position in relation to access to justice, arguing that access to justice has historically been a challenge for persons with disabilities. It assists those involved in law and justice programs to understand key barriers faced by persons with disabilities in the justice system - from the act of lodging a complaint, seeking police assistance, engaging a lawyer, obtaining legal aid, testifying in court, and participating in court proceedings or in investigations. It highlights the need for awareness and training of actors in the justice system, provision of accessible information and for reform of law, policy and practice pertaining to the administration of justice. It notes that women and girls with disabilities face additional barriers. Finally, it makes useful recommendations to CEDAW (and States) which would help inform disability inclusive law and justice programs.

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2013) Draft General Comment on Article 12 - on Equal Recognition before the Law

This guidance note was developed by the Committee (which is responsible for receiving reports from States parties and providing guidance on the UNCRPD) following interactive discussions on the issue of legal capacity of persons with disabilities. Experts, States parties, DPOs, NGOs, treaty monitoring bodies, national human rights institutions and UN agencies contributed to this process. The Committee observes that there is a general misunderstanding of the scope of the obligations of States parties under Article 12 of the UNCRPD. The aim of this document is to explore and explain these general obligations. It provides a useful resource for law and justice programs assisting countries to develop or reform laws to be consistent with the UNCRPD.

Schulze M (2010) Understanding the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A handbook on the human rights of persons with disabilities

This handbook explains the content of the UNCRPD and provides details of the negotiation and drafting process. It provides information on interpreting the text of the UNCRPD and information for its implementation at the local, national, regional and international levels, which may be useful for law and justice initiatives seeking to align national laws with UNCRPD.

Many justice systems around the world are not accessible to persons with psychosocial, intellectual or communication disabilities because investigative and judicial procedures are not adapted to meet their needs. In this publication (ESSL Social index pilot study 2010: Situation of persons with disabilities) the Zero Project, based in Geneva, provides a good practice example on universal access to justice in Israel - see pages 130-131.

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Picture of two women from using motorised scooters driving past the Sydney opera house.

Photo: Muhamad Ismail, 2013

Cucu Saidah and Yuyun Yuningsih visited Australia in October 2013 through the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Justice program. They met with organisations to discuss shadow reporting for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Copyright: Muhamad Ismail