European Court of Human Rights’ increases its recognition of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

6 February 2014

On 6 February 2014, the European Court of Human Rights came out with a positive judgment in the case of Semikhvostov v Russia (Application no 2689/12) in which EDF and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) had submitted a third party intervention to the Court in January 2013.

The case was 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. The Court concluded a violation of Article 3 on account of the inhuman and degrading conditions of the applicant’s detention, as well as a violation of Article 13 of the Convention due to the absence of an effective domestic remedy with which to raise claims of inadequate conditions of detention.

In coming to this judgment, the ruling reflects arguments elaborated by EDF & IDA in its third party intervention and highlights the failure to provide reasonable accommodation to the applicant as a central issue resulting in inhuman and degrading conditions.

It is significant that the European Court of Human Rights has taken up reasonable accommodation in its jurisprudence, and it represents a step toward increased CRPD recognition and compliance.

PENDING CASES

Other EDF & IDA third party interventions for which judgements are pending and which invoke reasonable accommodation are: Guberina v Croatia with respect to tax exemptions related to housing; and in HP v Denmark with respect to naturalisation proceedings.

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