France is a country with a strong tradition of republican and democratic values, resting on the ideals of ‘freedom, equality and fraternity’. Disability policies in France need to embrace these ideals to guarantee the full inclusion of all people with disabilities.

From 3 to 13 October of 2017, the Special Rapporteur was in France to examine the situation of persons with disabilities in the country. During her 10-day visit, she visited Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Avignon, where she met senior Government officials, representatives of independent institutions, people with disabilities, organizations, and service providers. She also visited several psychiatric facilities, segregated institutions for people with disabilities, a school with inclusive practices, and an inclusive housing project.

Preliminary findings

Ms. Devandas recognized France’s work to include children with disabilities in mainstream schools, but said the system would need a significant transformation to achieve inclusive education for all. Most children in residential institutions did not receive quality education, while others received no education at all, she noted.

The Special Rapporteur expressed serious concern about the high number of French people with disabilities living in residential institutions - at least 300,000 in France itself and another 6,500, including 1,500 children, in Belgium.

“People with disabilities, including those with high support needs, have the right to live in their communities, to choose their place of residence and with whom they live,” Ms. Devandas stressed. 
She urged the Government to close all institutions as soon as possible and switch to community-based services, including adequate housing. Moving children out of institutions should be a political priority, she added, and the Government should consider a moratorium on new admissions.

Ms. Devandas also noted that autistic people and those with psychosocial disabilities are systematically hospitalized or receive psychiatric treatment without consent. She reminded the government that deprivation of legal capacity and any type of involuntary treatment are contrary to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“France needs to carefully revise and transform its system to truly provide inclusive responses and solutions for all people with disabilities, manage and allocate resources more efficiently, and provide specialized services and support in the community on an equal basis with others”

Learn more about her findings and recommendations.
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