Legal remedies

Despite the existing substantial body of international and European law touching directly or indirectly upon disability, the respect for the human rights of persons with disabilities remains inadequate. On the whole, the international jurisprudence does not have many good cases on disability rights. Among the cases that do exist, some are even unfavorable for the promotion of disability rights.

Moreover, a violation of a human right of one person with a disability often reflects a systemic violation of the rights of a whole community of people with disabilities. These large human rights violations remain unaddressed because of their complex and institutionalized nature, making victims invisible in the eyes of the law and the society.

That is the reason why EDF, in close cooperation with the International Disability Alliance and EDF member organizations has been working in the past years on developing a progressive body of case law that takes into account the human rights of persons with disabilities as written in the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. 

EDF has mainly been intervening before the European Court of Human Rights by submitting third party interventions, also called amicus curiae briefs. EDF will also continue lokoing into opportunities at other regional human rights mechanisms such as the European Court of Justice or the European Social Rights Committee.

A third party intervention is a submission made by a third party (i.e. not one of the direct parties involved) to an active case.  The objective of a third party intervention is to provide the court with information to bring on the latest standards of international human rights law and comparative jurisprudence and practices and to assist the Court in this way in making its judgment.

Submitting third party interventions has shown to be an effective way to push governments to make significant changes in their laws and policies. A positive outcome in an individual case can bring a broader social change for many people with disabilities in similar situations and set a precedent for other countries.

Third party interventions by EDF and IDA and EDF members

  • Kocherov and Sergeyeva v Russia (Application no 16899/13) 

On 13 June 2014, together with the International Disability Alliance, Inclusion Europe and Inclusion International, EDF submitted written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Kocherov and Sergeyeva v Russia (Application no 16899/13).  The complaint is brought by a man and his daughter, Mr Kocherov and Ms Sergeyeva respectively, and puts forward violations of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to respect for their family life) due to the decision to restrict Mr Kocherov’s parental rights making it impossible for them to live together at home as a family.  Mr Kocherov also complains under Article 14 of the Convention that the restriction of his parental rights was discriminatory on the grounds of his intellectual disability. Kocherov & Sergeyeva v Russia written comments

  • HP v Denmark (Application no 55607/09):

On 20 January 2014, together with the International Disability Alliance, EDF submitted joint written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of HP v Denmark (Application no 55607/09).  This case concerns a victim of torture from Iran who was granted refugee status in Denmark where he has been living for over twenty years.  Due to the effects of being tortured, he has memory loss and difficulties in communicating and applied for an exemption regarding language requirements to obtain Danish nationality.  While the regulations governing naturalisation permitted the granting of an exemption for the language requirement “where the person in question… proved unable to learn Danish to a sufficient degree due to mental disorder, for example as a result of torture”, the Applicant’s exemption request was refused.  As a result of the refusal, he was denied citizenship and complains that his continued statelessness breaches his right to private life and constitutes disability based discrimination in violation of Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. HP v Denmark joint written comments

  • Guberina v Croatia (Application no 23682/13):

On 20 December 2013, together with International Disability Alliance and the Croatian Union of Associations of Persons with Disabilities, EDF submitted joint written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Guberina v Croatia (Application no 23682/13).  This case concerns a family with a child with multiple disabilities which bought a house owing to the inaccessibility of their former fiat (no lift) and the increasing difficulty in transporting their growing child. The law foresaw tax exemptions for buying property which met "hygiene and technical housing needs" but did not take into account accessibility needs related to persons with disabilities. Applying the letter of the law, the Croatian authorities refused to grant tax exemptions and subsequently dismissed the applicant's appeals without addressing the issue of the child's disability and related housing needs.  The Applicant claimed violations of Article 1 of Protocol no 1 (right to property) as well as Article 1 of Protocol no 12 (general non-discrimination clause) of the European Convention on Human Rights.   Guberina v Croatia joint written comments

  • Stankov v Bulgaria (Application no 25820/07):

In March 2013, together with the International Disability Alliance, European Network of (ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry and the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, EDF submitted joint written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Stankov v Bulgaria (Application no 25820/07) brought by a man with psychosocial disabilities who was deprived of his legal capacity, forcibly placed in successive social care institutions and subjected to ill-treatment on account of the poor living conditions and physical violence. The rights invoked are freedom from torture & ill treatment, right to liberty, access to justice, right to private life, and right to an effective remedy. Stankov v Bulgaria joint written comments

  • Koroviny v Russia (Application no 31974/11): 

In March 2013, together with the International Disability Alliance, European Network of (ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry and the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, EDF submitted joint written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Koroviny v Russia (Application no 31974/11) brought by a man who was arrested for a crime and detained for compulsory psychiatric treatment, the order for which was renewed on several occasions by a court following the finding that the applicant could not be held criminally responsible as it was deemed he was “mentally incapacitated”. He complains of the unlawfulness of his detention, ill-treatment including by being subjected to restraints, unfair trial, and violation of his right to private life covering censorship of his correspondence. Koroviny v Russia joint written comments

  • Semikhvostov v Russia (Application no 2689/12):

On 31 January 2013, together with the International Disability Alliance, EDF submitted  joint written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Semikhvostov v Russia (Application no 2689/12) brought by a wheel chair user prisoner who was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment due to conditions in prison and the denial of reasonable accommodation, claiming violations of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Semikhvostov v Russia joint written comments.

  • DG v Poland (Application no 45705/07):

On 2 July 2012, together with the International Disability Alliance and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, EDF submitted joint written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of DG v Poland (Application no 45705/07) brought by a wheel chair user prisoner who, in the course of carrying out his sentence, was subjected to ill-treatment in prison due to the lack of provision of reasonable accommodation. The amicus brief set out CRPD standards in relation to detention, freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment and non-discrimination including the obligation to provide reasonable accommodation. 

  • Mihailovs v Latvia (Application no 35939/10):

On 13 February 2012, together with the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, the European Disability Forum, and the European Network of (ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, IDA submitted joint written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Mihailovs v Latvia (Application no 35939/10) brought by a man with a psychosocial disability who was placed under guardianship and forcibly institutionalised and subjected to forced treatment and arbitrary detention for more than ten years. Mihailovs v Latvia joint written comments.

  • Gauer and Others v France (Application no 61521/08):

On 16 August 2011, together with the European Disability Forum, the Centre for Reproductive Rights, Interights and the Mental Disability Alliance, IDA submitted joint written comments to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Gauer and Others v France (Application no 61521/08) brought by five women with intellectual disabilities who were forcibly sterilised upon the decision of their guardian. Gauer and Others v France joint written comments. The European Group of National Human Rights Institutions also submitted comments to the Court, they can be read here

  • Dordevic v Croatia (Application no 41526/10)

On 24 February 2011, EDF submitted a third party intervention in the case of Dordevic vs Croatia.

This case was brought to the Court by two Croatian persons of Serbian origin: the first applicant is a person with severe and multiple disabilities and the second one is his mother. Over the period of four years, the first applicant was verbally and physically attacked on the account of his disability and Serbian origin by a group of neighbourhood school pupils.

This case was an opportunity for the Court to examine the response to violent crimes against persons with disabilities that, although widespread in many countries, remain misunderstood and, consequently, underreported.

On 24 July 2012, the European Court of Human Rights took a historical decision recognizing the State’s failure to protect a person with a disability and his mother against long-term harassment, thereby violating their human rights. It is the first case recognising hate crime against a person with a disability, an area that has failed to be successfully recognised in many European legal systems.