Flanders criticised for rights violations against people with disabilities
Flanders is violating the rights of people with disabilities, says the new Flemish Institute for Human Rights (VMRI), De Standaard reported on Friday. The VMRI's opinion comes a few months after an Antwerp court ruled that Flanders' disability policy violates the Belgian constitution.
Although Belgium is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Flemish policy does not comply with the provisions of the text. The VMRI is critical of the way the "person-centred budget" is applied to people with disabilities. "I hope this will wake up the government," said VMRI director David Stevens.
With a person-centred budget, people with disabilities pay for the care they need. The amount of the budget is determined by experts on the basis of a person's individual needs. After that, the person is put on a waiting list, which currently has 17,172 people on it. "And that is too many," said Stevens.
The VMRI is calling on Flanders to provide more money to eliminate this waiting list. "The funding mechanism must be adequate and give people legal security. Now their rights are being mortgaged."
"The funding mechanism must be adequate and give people legal security. Now their rights are being mortgaged."
According to the human rights organisation Grip vzw, around 540 million euros is needed to give everyone on the waiting list what they are entitled to. Some people have been waiting for 20 years, while others have seen their promised budget shrink. Nor are they given any indication of when they will receive the money, the VMRI said.
As recently as October this year, a court in Antwerp ruled that the Flemish government's decision to give some people with disabilities only half the care budget to which they were entitled violated the Belgian constitution.
The measure, which affected around 1,100 people on the waiting list, was introduced in 2022. The Flemish government wanted to see if people receiving only half their budget would find alternative support elsewhere.
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