In August 2022, EUCAP and three member organisations, Autistic Mutual Aid Society Edinburgh, Autism Rights Group Highland and National Autistic Taskforce, were among the 22 Disabled People’s Organisations and allies that signed a response to Scottish Government about their Coming Home Implementation Report.
The Government report sets out proposals to address the issue of autistic people and people with a learning disability in inappropriate out of area placements or spending undue lengths of time in hospital. However, there are serious concerns with the way the report was compiled and its proposals. For example, although the report cites human rights principles and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, specifically Article 19 on the Right to Independent Living, there was:
- no engagement with disabled people in the drafting of the report;
- no mention of independent advocacy, supported decision-making or self directed support, a key state mechanism for ensuring choice and control;
- use of medical model framing and language that was discriminatory and “othering”.
“Louis is described in ways that source the issue within him, his profound and multiple needs, his challenging behaviour. This is a medical model framing. Louis, an autistic man in his early thirties lived in a 9 person institution and thrived. Louis is resilient.“
Furthermore, the Coming Home Implementation Report set out various case studies which failed to look at the human rights of the disabled person. The response rewrote these case studies to take a human rights approach which highlighted additional shortcomings.
” ‘The design is 12 council tenancies in a cluster of four flats around three courtyards. This allows for efficiencies of support’
Observations: This appears to meet the criteria for institutional provision as defined by the CRPD. “
The Scottish Government have offered to meet with signatories and this will be taken up. In the meantime, discussions are underway as advocates look to maximise impact.
The inappropriate incarceration of autistic people is happening in countries across the globe and is a human rights scandal. On 9 September 2022 the UN CRPD adopted new “Guidelines on Deinstitutionalization, including times of emergency”. These provide a roadmap to governments, disability advocates and others about immediate steps needed to end the practice of institutionalization and residential treatment or care for people with disabilities.
EUCAP will follow the development of the situation in Scotland and seek to hear the views of autistic-led organisations directly involved in this important advocacy process.