The European Disability Forum (EDF) and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) welcome the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to reject the request by the Bioethics Committee of the Council of Europe to develop an advisory opinion on two provisions of the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention) related to forced treatment of persons with psychosocial disabilities. Such a request came about in the context of the controversy around the draft additional protocol to the Oviedo Convention, which openly contradicts the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Last November, together with Autism Europe, Inclusion Europe, Mental Health Europe, the European Disability Forum and the International Disability Alliance submitted a Third Party intervention, acknowledged by the court, setting forth the latest international human rights standards with respect to the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities to non-discrimination and liberty and security, particularly regarding decisions of involuntary placement and involuntary treatment in psychiatry.
The Court rejected the request of the Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO) stating that it is not within its competence to deliver an advisory opinion on the matter. The court highlighted that it “should not, as part of this exercise, interpret any substantive provisions or jurisprudential principles of the [European] Convention [on Human Rights].” EDF and IDA highlight the court’s reference to its “dynamic approach to interpreting the Convention”, which requires to pay attention to international legal standards, as those enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as interpreted by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This decision being final, IDA and EDF calls on the Council of Europe’s Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO) and Member States to listen to the voice of the many actors that have expressed opposition to this initiative, including the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Special Rapporteur on Health, the Independent Expert on older persons, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights and Parliamentary Assembly, organisations of persons with disabilities and many other civil society organisations. The Council of Europe and European States must respect the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities and #WithdrawOviedo.
The vote on the draft additional protocol by members of the DH-BIO Committee is scheduled for November 2021. If the text is adopted by the Committee it will then need to be approved by the Committee of Ministers in 2022.
More information about #WithdrowOviedo Campaign is available on our website.
More information about the judgment:
Marine Uldry, EDF Human Rights Officer