The following principles and statement to Governments were agreed by the CDPF Executive Committee 30th March 2020 and provided to help ensure disabled people throughout the Commonwealth are not disadvantaged and have their needs met.
Preamble: Human Rights are not dispensable because there is a medical emergency. Indeed, the need to protect and ensure that all disabled people have their full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity has never been greater. History shows us that in the past, disabled people have been inhumanely treated at times of political, social and humanitarian/medical crisis and this must not be repeated. 181 countries, including 49 of the 54 countries of the Commonwealth, have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with the above as its purpose. All member countries support the Commonwealth Charter which reaffirms, among other points, the core principles of Democracy, Human Rights, Tolerance, Rule of Law, Sustainable Development, Gender Equality, Access to Education, Health, Nutrition and Shelter and the Role of Civil Society (Dec.2012).
- Disabled People must receive information about infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans and the services offered in a diversity of accessible formats with use of accessible technologies.
- Additional protective measures must be taken for people with certain types of impairment and for many disabled people to function they require close personal assistance from carers or family members.
- Rapid awareness-raising and training are essential for all personnel involved in the response. This must include accommodations and support disabled people require.
- All preparedness and response plans must be inclusive of and accessible to disabled women and children.
- No disability-based institutionalization and abandonment is acceptable.
- During quarantine, support services, personal assistance, food and clean water supply, physical and communication accessibility must be ensured.
- Measures of public restrictions must consider disabled people on an equal basis with others.
- Disabled people in need of health services due to COVID19 cannot be deprioritized on the ground of their disability.
- Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) can and should play a key role in raising awareness of disabled people and their families.
- DPOs can and should play a key role in advocating for a disability-inclusive response to the COVID19 crisis to their Governments, Health Service and Communities.
FPDN’s Deputy CEO June Riemer is the Australian Indigenous Delegate to the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum (CDPF).