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Access to justice for persons with disabilities: Commissioner Muižnieks intervenes in hearing on milestone case before the Strasbourg Court

[Strasbourg, 04/09/2013 11:00] – "Effective equality for persons with disabilities requires removing the barriers that prevent them from accessing courts to claim their human rights," said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks today, taking part in a hearing before the European Court of Human Rights on a case concerning the treatment of a person with disabilities in Romania.

Today's oral intervention follows the written observations submitted by his predecessor in October 2011; it is the first since the entry into force of Protocol n° 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights which gave the Commissioner the right to intervene in proceedings before the Strasbourg Court on his own initiative.

Commissioner Muižnieks underlined the importance of the case at stake, which would set the position of the Court with regard to access to justice of people with disabilities. He considered that in exceptional circumstances, non-governmental organisations should be allowed to lodge applications with the Court on behalf of victims, in particular in cases concerning vulnerable groups of people, such as persons with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities. The case has been lodged by the Centre for Legal Resources on behalf of Valentin Câmpeanu, a young man of Roma ethnic origin, suffering from a severe learning disability and infected with the HIV virus, who died at the age of 18 at the Poiana Mare Psychiatric Hospital, after having spent his all life in institutions.

"People turn to the European Court of Human Rights because they feel unable to find justice at home. Failure to ensure that particularly vulnerable persons have effective access to justice will allow the abuses committed against them to continue," stressed the Commissioner in his concluding words at the hearing.

Read the Third party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights under Article 36, paragraph 3, of the European Convention on Human Rights (Application No. 47848/08 - The Centre for Legal Resources on behalf of Valentin Câmpeanu v. Romania)

See the webcast