This is a summary of guidance from international human rights bodies in relation to the protection of the rights of people with disabilities in the coronavirus pandemic. By "people with disabilities" I include people with intellectual disabilities, cognitive disabilities (such as dementia), autism and mental health issues: Article 1 CRPD.
It is hoped this post will be of benefit to people with disabilities, their families, carers and advocates. It may also be useful to organisations providing services as well as independent inspectorates of places of detention.
Latest update 11 May 2020.
This post addresses the following topics: (A) Information accessibility; (B) Physical distancing and lockdown; (C) Continuity of support in the community; (D) Rights in institutional settings; (E) Getting people out of institutional settings; (F) Monitoring institutional settings; (G) Non-discrimination in healthcare; (H) Participation; and (I) Education.
If your time is limited, here are my top 4 recommended readings: Catalina Devandas' statement of 17 March, the CPT's statement of principles of 20 March, Dunja Mijatović's statement of 2 April, and the UN Sec-Gen's Policy Brief of 5 May. A full bibliography is at the end of the post.
A group of UN experts published a joint statement on 16 March 2020, calling on states “to remain steadfast in maintaining a human rights-based approach to regulating this pandemic”. What does that mean in relation to disability?
The following day, Catalina Devandas, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, issued a statement which was endorsed by the UN experts on discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, Alice Cruz, the expert on rights of older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte.
Devandas's statement was strongly worded: “Little has been done to provide people with disabilities with the guidance and support needed to protect them during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even though many of them are part of the high-risk group”.
People with disabilities are at higher risk of contracting coronavirus because of “barriers accessing preventive information and hygiene, reliance on physical contact with the environment or support persons, as well as respiratory conditions caused by certain impairments”, according to the International Disability Alliance (“IDA”). The WHO adds more barriers, including implementing basic hygiene measures, such as hand-washing because hand-basins or sinks may be physically inaccessible, or a person may have physical difficulty rubbing their hands together thoroughly. the UN Sec-Gen's Policy Brief adds that many people with disabilities may lack accessibility to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities. It also makes the point that those in institutional settings are "more likely to contract the virus and have higher rates of mortality."
IDA says that people with disabilities may also have an increased risk of a more severe response if they contract the disease due to underlying conditions and already inaccessible healthcare systems. WHO agrees, adding that this may be because of "COVID-19 exacerbating existing health conditions, particularly those related to respiratory function, immune system function, heart disease or diabetes" and "barriers to accessing health care." UN Sec-Gen's Policy Brief adds obesity to the list and makes the point that "barriers to accessing healthcare are further exacerbated" which makes "timely and appropriate care difficult."
The UN Secretary General has urged states to ensure that "national and local response and recovery plans identify and put in place targeted measures to address the disproportionate impact of the virus on certain groups and individuals", including people with disabilities.
Article 11 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“CRPD”) sets out a duty on states to take “all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters”. Rights persist throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
As for the ECHR, the Council of Europe has reiterated that responsibility under Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 (freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) may be invoked in respect of people with disabilities:
"Their exposure to the disease and the extreme level of suffering may be found incompatible with the state’s positive obligations to protect life and prevent ill-treatment. This positive obligation is further confirmed by Article 11 of the European Social Charter (revised) according to which states parties must demonstrate their ability to cope with infectious diseases, by means of arrangements for reporting and notifying diseases and by taking all the necessary emergency measures in case of epidemics. States’ increased attention to vulnerable groups would be consistent with the peoples’ right to equitable access to health care (Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, “the Oviedo Convention”)."
(A) Information accessibility
The state obligation on accessibility is covered in Article 9 of the CRPD, which has been explained in the CRPD Committee’s general comment number 2. The Committee has emphasised that healthcare services and information must be accessible to people with disabilities.
The UN Sec-Gen's Policy Brief says "accessibility is fundamental to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the immediate health and socio-economic response to COVID-19". This includes public health information, the built environment, communications and technologies and goods and services.
Catalina Devandas has called for the information about how to prevent and contain coronavirus to be “accessible to everyone", explaining that, "[p]ublic advice campaigns and information from national health authorities must be made available to the public in sign language and accessible means, modes and formats, including accessible digital technology, captioning, relay services, text messages, easy-to-read and plain language."
Human Rights Watch has said that,
“All information about COVID-19 should be accessible and available in multiple languages, including for those with low or no literacy. This should include qualified sign language interpretation for televised announcements, as Taiwan has done; websites that are accessible to people with vision, hearing, learning, and other disabilities; and telephone-based services that have text capabilities for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Communications should utilize plain language to maximize understanding. Age appropriate information should be provided to children to help them take steps to protect themselves.”
Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has underlined the importance of “transparency and accessibility” of information about coronavirus.
In the context of prisons (see "C: Institutional settings", below) WHO-Europe says that it is
"... absolutely essential to engage the prison population in widespread information and awareness-raising activities, so that people in prison/detention and visitors are informed in advance and understand the procedures to be adopted, why they are necessary, and how they are to be carried out. It is especially important that any potential restrictive measures are explained and their temporary nature emphasized."
Global WHO has also recommended the following:
- Include captioning and, where possible, sign language for all live and recorded events and communications
- Convert public materials into “Easy Read” format so that they are accessible for people with intellectual disability or cognitive impairment
- Develop accessible written information products by using appropriate document formats, (such as “Word”), with structured headings, large print, braille versions and formats for people who are deaf blind
- Include captions for images used within documents or on social media.
- Use images that are inclusive and do not stigmatize disability
- Work with disability organizations, including advocacy bodies and disability service providers to disseminate public health information.
Information about Coronavirus and how to prevent infection must be accurate and provided "in languages and formats that are child-friendly and accessible" to children with disabilities, says the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The International Labour Organization has added that information on teleworking arrangements needs to be accessible to people with disabilities.
UNICEF makes the point that it is important to ensure that children with disabilities receive the information, especially when regular communication channels (such as schools) may be closed. People with disabilities, UNICEF says, "may also have lower levels of access to social media and other technology-based platforms" so other means will need to be used to reach them.
Information to people in institutional settings is also important, the WHO says. Care homes should provide informational sessions for residents to inform them about the virus, the disease it causes and how to protect themselves from infection.
(B) Physical distancing and lockdown
It has been suggested that “social distancing” is the wrong phrase. While we must keep our bodies apart from others, we need not be distant from each other in our hearts and minds. This is particularly important for people with disabilities who may already be segregated or isolated from the community. Article 19 of the CRPD sets out the right to live independently and be included in the community. Perhaps "physical distancing" is a better phrase.
People with disabilities face barriers in social distancing. Catalina Devandas has observed how social distancing and self-isolation “may be impossible for those who rely on the support of others to eat, dress and bathe”. She calls for states to put into place financing measures for people with disabilities. Those providing care, including relatives, “may also require reasonable accommodation to provide support to people with disabilities during this period”. The right to non-discrimination whereby a failure to provide reasonable accommodation (per Article 5 and the definitions in Article 2 of the CRPD), is an interesting way of framing the need as a right.
Devandas has advised people with disabilities to take control and be “a bit aggressive”, for example, by demanding that visitors wash their hands when they enter their homes.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has said that, "[c]onfinement may expose children to increased physical and psychological violence at home, or force children to stay in homes that are overcrowded and lack the minimum conditions of habitability. Children with disabilities and behavioural problems, as well as their families, may face additional difficulties behind closed doors." The substantial increase of domestic violence "has a particular impact on women and girls with disabilities", adds the UN Sec-Gen's Policy Brief .
UN experts have called on states to provide "additional social protection measures so that their support reaches those who are at most risk of being disproportionately affected by the crisis."
(C) Continuity of support in the community
Coronavirus is hitting professional and unpaid care of people with disabilities in the community. In the policy briefing on human rights, the UN Secretary General says that
"It may be harder for persons with disabilities to take prudent steps to protect themselves. The outbreak threatens the independence of persons with disabilities who live in their own homes but depend on outside support. They may face difficulty accessing basic necessities, food and medication. Continuity of support throughout the crisis must be guaranteed."
He develops the point in the Policy Brief on disability, calling for "service continuity plans, particularly for people with disabilities with high support needs, as well as measures to reduce potential exposure to COVID-19 during the provision of services" This would include advice for informal carers to care for loved ones safely, an expansion of community support". He warns against increased pressure on families to provide unpaid, informal care that can put pressures on those being cared for as well as the carer, with negative consequences particularly on women.
On World Autism day, the UN Secretary General said that people with autism should "continue to have access to the support systems required to remain in their homes and communities through times of crisis, instead of facing the prospect of forced institutionalization”.
The WHO's guidance on disability recommends that governments work with people with disability and their representative organisations to identify financial and administrative measures to provide continuity, such as funding for families and carers who need to take time off work to care for disabled loved ones; planning in case they need to self-isolate; and that care agencies providing in-home care have continuity plans for situations in which the number of available cares may be reduced.
(D) Rights in institutional settings
By “institutional settings” I include psychiatric hospitals and mental health units, social care homes, elderly person's homes, group homes and prisons. People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to infection in these facilities given the risk of contamination of many people living together in a congregated way. We know from the likes of Foucault and Goffman that institutions remove autonomy and control and in the coronavirus pandemic that includes activities such as handwashing, food preparation, availability of tissues and so on. Further, people living in institutional settings may already be less healthy than the general population (on this point in the context of prisons, this article is informative).
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, says that coronavirus "risks rampaging through such institutions’ extremely vulnerable populations" and that "governments should address the situation of detained people in their crisis planning to protect detainees, staff, visitors and of course wider society".
In February, coronavirus was introduced into a long-term residential care facility in Washington State. It resulted in cases among 81 residents, 34 staff members, and 14 visitors. Sadly, 23 persons died. A group of public health scientists published a paper in which they observed that, “once COVID-19 has been introduced into a long-term care facility, it has the potential to result in high attack rates among residents, staff members, and visitors.”
The scientists advised that substantial morbidity and mortality might be averted if all institutional care facilities take the following steps now:
- Identify and exclude symptomatic staff members;
- Restrict visitation except in compassionate care situations; and
- Strengthen infection prevention and control guidance and adherence.
On 20 March 2020, the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture (CPT) published a “statement of principles” relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the pandemic (also available in French and Russian). In summary, the CPT’s advice is as follows:
- WHO and clinical guidance must be implemented in all places of detention [see next [paragraph];
- Staff availability should be reinforced;
- Persons deprived of their liberty should receive information;
- The authorities should find alternatives to deprivation of liberty. In the disability context, this includes reassessing the need to continue psychiatric detention; transferring people out of social care facilities into community care.
- People should be tested coronavirus;
- Any necessary restrictions on contact with the outside world, including visits, should be compensated for by increased access to alternative means of communication such as telephone or web-based communications; and
- If a person is isolated, meaningful human contact should be provided every day.
What is the relevant WHO guidance? On 21 March 2020, the WHO issued guidance for long-term care facilities. It is detailed and needs to be read in full. I have analysed the UK's compliance with the guidance in this blog.
Responding to reports of institutional settings banning contact with the outside world, Dunja Mijatović said on 2 April 2020 that, "isolation must be mitigated as much as possible, for example by increasing the use of accessible forms of electronic communication."
Urgently transferring people out of institutional settings is a point reiterated in a joint statement of 1 April 2020 by the Chair of the CRPD Committee and the Special Envoy of the UNSG on Disability and Accessibility, They call on states to, "accelerate measures of deinstitutionalization of persons with disabilities from all types of institutions."
WHO-Europe has published an "interim" document "Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention". The document is dated 15 March but was published on 23 March 2020. It covers prisons, immigration detention settings, and children and young people’s detention estate. The 40-page document does not refer to psychiatric hospitals and social care institutions, a staggering omission given that people are deprived of their liberty in those places too.
WHO-Europe says that the "human rights framework provides guiding principles in determining the response to the outbreak". Its document makes important points relevant for disabled people in institutional settings, including:
- Enhanced consideration should be given to resorting to non-custodial measures (p.4). For disability institutions, this means discharging people into the community, and considering a moratorium on new admissions to psychiatric hospitals;
- To effectively tackle a disease outbreak, state authorities must establish an up-to-date multi-sectoral coordination system that keeps staff well-informed and guarantees that all human rights in the facilities are respected (pp.8 and 15);
- Screening at point of entry to the institution should be available: health-care and public health teams should undertake a risk assessment of all people entering the prison, irrespective of whether or not there are suspected cases in the community. This includes detainees, staff and visitors (p.8); and
- Training of staff on basic disease knowledge, including pathogen, transmission route, signs and clinical disease progression; hand hygiene practice and respiratory etiquette; appropriate use of, and requirements for, personal protection equipment ("PPE"); environmental prevention measures, including cleaning and disinfection (p.14).
In her 26 March 2020 statement, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights gives examples of alternative measures when visits have to be restricted, "such as setting up expanded videoconferencing, allowing increased phone calls with family members and permitting email."
(E) Getting people out of institutional settings
In a statement about the rights of older persons, Dunja Mijatović takes the opportunity to make an important macro point, which is that the pandemic “brings to light the failings of large, institutional settings”. She goes on to observe that a “social care system which privileges individualised support to older persons, while promoting their full inclusion in the community, must be at the heart of these reforms.”
In a further statement on 2 April 2020, she added, "[w]hile residents in such institutions often face neglect and inadequate health care at the best of times, this pandemic has unfortunately brought to the forefront the additional serious health risks persons with disabilities are exposed to in such settings."
Guidance issued by the OHCHR looks beyond the pandemic, encouraging states to "recover better by adopting and reinforcing deinstitutionalisation strategies to close institutions and return people to the community, and strengthening supports and services for persons with disabilities and older persons".
More immediate is the need to respond to the increased risk of infection in congregate settings.The UN Sec-Gen's Policy Brief says that, "[i]nstitutional settings have become COVID-19 hotspots".
The international bodies have provided the following guidance on ensuring patients/residents are discharged, where possible. This is in line with Article 19 of the CRPD which sets out the right to live independently in the community.
- The "authorities should [...] reassess the need to continue involuntary placement of psychiatric patients; discharge or release to community care, wherever appropriate, residents of social care homes" (CPT, 20 March 2020)
- “Covid-19 has begun to strike prisons, jails and immigration detention centres, as well as residential care homes and psychiatric hospitals, and risks rampaging through such institutions’ extremely vulnerable populations [...] [A]uthorities should act now to prevent further loss of life among detainees and staff." (Michelle Bachelet, 25 March 2020)
- Reduce the number of people in psychiatric hospitals, wherever possible, by implementing schemes of early discharge, together with provision of adequate support for living in the community" (WHO, 26 March 2020)
- "[A]ccelerate measures of deinstitutionalization of persons with disabilities from all types of institutions." (CRPD Committee and UN Special Envoy, 1 April 2020)
- "Discharge and release persons with disabilities from institutions and promptly ensure provision of support in the community through family and/or informal networks, and fund support services by public or private service providers." (OHCHR, 29 April 2020)
- "Reduce the number of people within institutions. It is important to take immediate action to discharge and release persons with disabilities from institutions, whenever possible. Deinstitutionalization strategies need to be accelerated and reinforced with clear timelines and concrete benchmarks." (UN Sec-Gen, 5 May 2020)
(F) Monitoring institutional settings
Catalina Devandas has noted that limiting contact with visitors such as family and friends may result in the risk of patients / inmates / residents becoming “unprotected from any form of abuse or neglect in institutions”.
As a response to the heightened risk of exploitation, violence and abuse in the absence of independent monitoring, States have an ongoing obligation (per Article 16(3) of the CRPD as well as the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture) to ensure that facilities are “effectively monitored by independent authorities”. Such inspectorates will have to adjust how they monitor facilities, including by way of video conferencing. Mental health and social care commissioners should consider assigning one existing institutional staff member to act as quasi-independent in-situ advocate reporting by phone or video to the inspectorate. While not ideal, this would provide some sort of safeguard for patients/residents.
The CPT takes the view that monitoring bodies (such as the Care Quality Commission in England) "should maintain access" and such inspectorates must promote the “do no harm” principle by taking precautions. WHO-Europe's view is that, "[t]he pandemic must not be used as a justification for objecting to external inspection".
On 14 February 2020, the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture wrote to the UK's National Preventive Mechanism (which means inspectorate, which in the health and social care context is the Care Quality Commission) about compulsory quarantine for coronavirus. It said:
"adaptations to normal working practises, in the interests of those in quarantine, those undertaking the visit, and the general interest in halting the spread of the illness. For example, the opportunity to interview in private may reasonably be conducted by methods which prevent the transmission of infection, and members of the NPM accessing places of quarantine might legitimately be subject to medical checks and other forms of inspection and restriction to ensure the integrity of the quarantine, as would be the case for others servicing the needs of those being detained." (para. 9) [An "NPM" is a National Preventive Mechanism which is the phrase used in the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. It means an independent inspectorate such as the Care Quality Commission]
(G) Non-discrimination in healthcare
Article 25 of the CRPD sets out the right to health of people with disabilities. It includes the provision of the “same range, quality and standard” of healthcare as others (Art. 25(a)) and the prevention of “discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability” (Art. 25(f)).
In the context of coronavirus, states must ensure equal access to emergency services for people with disabilities. Devandas says that people with disabilities “deserve to be reassured that their survival is a priority”. The IDA emphasises that states “must ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind or systematically deprioritized in the response to the crisis”. Communications by the healthcare provider about the stage of the disease and any procedures must be to the disabled person themselves and through accessible means and modes of communication.
In a joint statement, a group of UN special rapporteurs reminded states of the principle of non-discrimination in the provision of life-saving interventions. Among the groups highlighted are people with disabilities, people who live in residential institutions or who are in detention. The UN Sec-Gen's Policy Brief stresses the importance of mitigating "the risk of discriminatory decisions in resource allocation that put people with disabilities at a high level of disadvantage by applying ethical principles that prioritize treatment for persons in situations of particular vulnerability", referring to the WHO's Guidance for Managing Ethical Issues in Infectious Disease Outbreaks, published in 2016.
The UN independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons Rosa Kornfeld-Matte has suggested that "Triage protocols must be developed and followed to ensure such decisions are made on the basis of medical needs, the best scientific evidence available and not on non-medical criteria such as age or disability." The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that the denial of treatment on the basis of disability should be prohibited.
Article 4(3) CRPD sets out the obligation on states to "actively involve and closely consult" people with disabilities and their representative organisations on law and policy formulation and implementation.
The UN Sec-Gen's Policy Brief stresses this point, saying that people with disabilities "have important contributions to make in tackling the crisis and building the future. Many persons with disabilities have experience of thriving in situations of isolation and alternate working arrangements that can offer models for navigating the current situation. Perspectives and lived experiences of disability contribute to creativity, new approaches and innovative solutions to challenges."
This is a point that the ILO emphasises. At the core of labour rights as well as disability rights is, according to the ILO, "social dialogue and participation", adding that, "[t]his is needed more than ever during the current crisis. A multiplicity of views - from governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations and organizations of persons with disabilities- brings a multiplicity of solutions."
As for children with disabilities, UNICEF has advised its field offices to "engage with [Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs)] at every stage of the response, from the identification of persons with disabilities and development of key messages to building capacity on disability inclusion among responders".
Reliable figures on students with disabilities are not yet available, but the UN Policy Brief says that the crisis has likely "exacerbated their exclusion from education".
Students with disabilities are "least likely to benefit from distance learning solutions. Lack of support, access to the internet, accessible software and learning materials is likely to deepen the gap for students with disabilities. Disruption to skills and training programmes are likely to have far-reaching effects on youth with disabilities who face a multitude of barriers to entering the workforce."
UNICEF has warned that children with disabilities “may be at risk of exclusion from education if remote / distance learning programmes are not accessible or they do not have assistive devices to allow participation and accommodate learning needs”. UNICEF gives examples of assistive devices as talking calculators, text magnifiers, alternative keyboards and audio books.
Since mid March 2020, several international human rights personnel and mechanisms have issued guidance and statements about the rights of people with disabilities in the coronavirus pandemic. These statements emanate from binding human rights law: states must take them into account when developing law and policy.
Here are the sources mentioned above, in chronological order.
13 March 2020, Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, "We must respect human rights and stand united against the coronavirus pandemic" -https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/we-must-respect-human-rights-and-stand-united-against-the-coronavirus-pandemic
16 March 2020, Several UN experts, " COVID-19: States should not abuse emergency measures to suppress human rights" - https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25722&LangID=E
17 March 2020, Catalina Devandas, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, "COVID-19: Who is protecting the people with disabilities?" - https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25725&LangID=E
19 March 2020, Human Rights Watch (an NGO), "Human Rights Dimensions of COVID-19 Response" - https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/19/human-rights-dimensions-covid-19-response
19 March 2020, UNICEF, "COVID-19 response: Considerations for Children and Adults with Disabilities" - https://www.unicef.org/disabilities/files/COVID-19_response_considerations_for_people_with_disabilities_190320.pdf
19 March 2020, International Disability Alliance (an NGO), "Toward a Disability-Inclusive COVID19 Response: 10 recommendations" - http://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/content/covid-19-and-disability-movement
20 March 2020, European Committee on the Prevention of Torture (CPT) “Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty” - https://www.coe.int/en/web/cpt/-/covid-19-council-of-europe-anti-torture-committee-issues-statement-of-principles-relating-to-the-treatment-of-persons-deprived-of-their-liberty-
21 March 2020, WHO, Infection Prevention and Control guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities in the context of COVID-19" - https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/331508/WHO-2019-nCoV-IPC_long_term_care-2020.1-eng.pdf
23 March 2020, WHO-Europe, "Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention" - http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-determinants/prisons-and-health/news/news/2020/3/preventing-covid-19-outbreak-in-prisons-a-challenging-but-essential-task-for-authorities
24 March 2020, UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies, "Human rights approach in fighting COVID-19" - https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25742&LangID=E
25 March 2020, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Urgent action needed to prevent COVID-19 rampaging through places of detention" - https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25745&LangID=E
26 March 2020, Several UN experts, "No exceptions with COVID-19: Everyone has the right to life-saving interventions” - https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25746&LangID=E
26 March 2020, WHO, "Disability considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak" - https://www.who.int/who-documents-detail/disability-considerations-during-the-covid-19-outbreak
27 March 2020, The Inter-Agency Standing Committee, "Interim Guidance on COVID-19: Focus on Persons Deprived of Their Liberty" - https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/system/files/2020-03/IASC%20Interim%20Guidance%20on%20COVID-19%20-%20Focus%20on%20Persons%20Deprived%20of%20Their%20Liberty.pdf
27 March 2020, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, “'Unacceptable' – UN expert urges better protection of older persons facing the highest risk of the COVID-19 pandemic" - https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25748&LangID=E
1 April 2020, Chair of the CRPD Committee and the Special Envoy of the UNSG on Disability and Accessibility, "Persons with Disabilities and COVID-19" - https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/CRPDStatements.aspx
2 April 2020, UN Secretary General, "COVID-19 should not herald rollback in rights for people with autism" - https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1060912
2 April 2020, Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, "Persons with disabilities must not be left behind in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic" - https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/persons-with-disabilities-must-not-be-left-behind-in-the-response-to-the-covid-19-pandemic
6 April 2020, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, "Statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and economic, social and cultural rights" - https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cescr/pages/cescrindex.aspx
8 April 2020, International Labour Organization, "No one left behind, not now, not ever: Persons with disabilities in the COVID-19 response" - https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/disability-and-work/WCMS_741287/lang--en/index.htm
8 April 2020, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, "The Committee on the Rights of the Child warns of the grave physical, emotional and psychological effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and calls on States to protect the rights of children" - https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CRC/Shared%20Documents/1_Global/INT_CRC_STA_9095_E.pdf
9 April 2020, Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, "Coronavirus: guidance to governments on respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law" - https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/coronavirus-guidance-to-governments-on-respecting-human-rights-democracy-and-the-rule-of-law
29 April 2020, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Covid-19 and the rights of persons with disabilities: guidance" - https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Disability/COVID-19_and_The_Rights_of_Persons_with_Disabilities.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2k4WVrFxgLiKXDUAnfRb509X_NDFux_wYm1L0oXBW1tyNfKwBWOHYtYk4
6 May 2020, UN Secretary-General, "Policy Brief on Persons with Disabilities and COVID-19" - https://www.who.int/who-documents-detail/policy-brief-of-the-un-secretary-general-a-disability-inclusive-response-to-covid-19
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Little has been done to provide people with disabilities with the guidance and support needed to protect them during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even though many of them are part of the high-risk group.