Persons with disabilities have a history of being recognised as unable to exercise their rights, such as the right to vote, because "of their lack of capacity to understand or to perform certain acts". As a result, persons with disabilities are often forced into substitute decision-making regimes, stripping them of the opportunity to contribute to society and to perform activities such as voting, parenting or opening a bank account. The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) and Mental Health Europe partnered up to draft a report on the importance to switch from substitute decision-making to supported decision-making, where persons with disabilities can exercise their rights and take their own decision with the help of a third party.
Here are the arguments in favour and the characteristics of supported decision-making listed in their report by ENNHRI and Mental Health Europe:
- It is in line with the principles of human rights and International Law.
- It ensures the will of persons with disabilities is respected.
- It guarantees freedom of choice to persons with disabilities, including the ability to refuse assistance.
- It implies persons with disabilities must receive correct and accessible information about the nature of the help that will be provided.
- The help must be person-centred and, therefore, flexible and adaptable to the needs of the user.
- Supported decision-making must be available to al those who request it.
- Non-necessary external influences are to be avoided.
- "States must adopt a community-based approach to the provision of decision-making support".
- An impartial body must periodically assess the quality of the support provided and the compliance to the rights of the user.
- "The dignity of risk needs to be accepted, which entail s placing greater value on the individual's right to decide even when decisions seem unreasonable or risky to others".
This report features the work of EASPD member SUPPORT.