Incapacity Rights Report Highlights Challenges Underneath Lockdown – Workplace of the Ombudsman

A new report from the New Zealand Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) sheds light on the realities and challenges disabled people faced during the COVID-19 emergency.

Te Whakatinana i ngā Tika Hauātanga i te wāo te Urutā, realizing the rights of people with disabilities in a pandemic, examines compliance with the United Nations Disability Convention during COVID -19-Emergency in New Zealand from late March to mid-June 2020. New Zealand’s IMM partners are the Coalition of Disability Organizations (DPO), the Ombudsman and the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

At the center of this report are the stories of disabled people who went through this troubled time.

These stories have shown resilience, strength, and commitment. Some stories have been troubling, others show caring and inventive responses.

The Disability Convention obliges the signatory governments to protect and promote the rights of disabled people. In particular, Article 11 requires governments to respect the rights of people with disabilities in risky and emergency situations and to take measures to protect and ensure the safety of people with disabilities.

TDB recommends

Achieving disability rights in a pandemic provides recommendations for future pandemic planning to ensure that New Zealand is well equipped to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are respected in future humanitarian emergencies.

While reporting some positive experiences, the report also notes that the restrictions imposed under various alert levels have highlighted and exacerbated some existing inequalities in the enjoyment of human rights by disabled people.

However, there are also cases of greater connectedness, collegiality and a sense of more inclusive community.

The report strongly recommends working with tāngata whaikaha Māori (disabled Māori) in making decisions. The report includes 23 additional recommendations in seven sectors: access to essential goods, services and spaces; Decision making, participation and data; Access to information and communication; Education; Health; Work and employment; and access to justice and disabled people in prisons.

The COVID-19 report follows the release of Whakatūturu Ngā Tika Hauātanga, the IMM’s third report on New Zealand Disability Convention Compliance, in June 2020.

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