Disability rights during the pandemic
A global report on findings of the COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor
The report presents the findings from a rapid global survey of persons with disabilities and other stakeholders which took place between April and August this year.
The report analyses over 2,100 responses to the survey which were received from 134 countries around the world. The vast majority were received from individuals with disabilities and their family members. Very few governments or independent monitoring institutions responded.
The report highlights four major themes:
- The egregious failure to protect the lives of people in residential institutions, which have become hotspots during the pandemic: Instead of prioritising emergency measures to reintegrate people into the community, respondents pointed out that many institutions have been locked down, with fatal consequences.
- Widespread, rigid shutdowns that caused a dramatic breakdown in essential services in the community: People could not access basic goods, including food, and supports such as personal assistance. Strict enforcement of these lockdowns by police and security forces has sometimes had tragic results.
- Serious and multiple human rights violations against underrepresented populations of persons with disabilities: Women and girls have experienced a major uptick in violence, children with disabilities have been denied access to online education, and homeless persons with disabilities have either been rounded up and detained, or left completely to fend for themselves.
- A concerning trend of denying basic and emergency healthcare, including worrying reports about the adoption of discriminatory triage procedures: In some cases, persons with disabilities were directly denied access to treatment for COVID-19 because of their disability.
The survey collected over 3,000 separate pieces of testimony, many of which manifestly demonstrated a complete failure by states to adopt disability-inclusive responses. This was the case in many countries, regardless of their level of economic development, pointing to a collective failure on the part of leaders.
The COVID-19 DRM Coordinating Group seeks to "catalyse urgent action in the weeks and months to come," as transmission rates continue to rise in many countries and people with disabilities are again subjected to restrictions which have had severe consequences.