An example at National level - the CRPD is most valuable in advocacy work in Sweden

The CRPD is an important tool in the work of SRF (EBU Member for Sweden) for an equal and accessible society. The rights in the CRPD empower Persons with Disabilities and the Disability movement in Sweden.

The Swedish legal system is characterised by dualism. Which implies that the UN conventions are implemented by the legislator and not as in certain countries, where a private person can invoke the convention in judicial courts. The government sets up a strategy of disability policies that is regularly updated and built on the convention and its guidelines. The convention according to this document and in accordance with the CRPD, shall be implemented in all relevant means in order to achieve a breakthrough. The convention is quotable in a Swedish court but to be guaranteed effective it must be written into Swedish law. The rights in the CRPD can be used in the courts if Swedish legislation is lacking to support a case before law. However, as the CRPD is not Swedish law it cannot be relied upon but can still be useful to support a case. 

There is a lack of knowledge and will on the part of authorities and decision-makers that Sweden has committed itself to complying with the convention. The convention is not used as a basis for decisions in courts and authorities. There is also a lack of knowledge among blind and partially sighted citizens about the Convention and how to use it.

The Un Committee has recommended Sweden to make the convention Swedish law. It is important to work for the smooth transposition of the convention into Swedish law before work begins on making the convention a law. There may be a risk that the convention as a law will lead to people with disabilities having reduced opportunities to claim their rights.

Parallel or shadow reporting gives Swedish disability movement as well as civil society Organisations CSOs the possibility to meet and analyse the current situation in Sweden. We raise items that are not focused on in the State report to the CRPD committee in their every fourth year monitoring process. We put forward the most pending issues when it comes to human rights and persons with disabilities PWDs living in Sweden. We also refer to the articles mentioned in CRPD and the sustainable Development goals SDGs of importance for the relevant issues. In this way by mentioning the rights concerned we make the item sustainable.

How SRF uses the Convention in advocacy work

For visually Impaired People this means some of the items we now bring forward in the debate for Swedish elections taking place in September 2022.

For example:

- The bad access for persons with visual impairments to the labour market.

- Still only around 50% of visually impaired people are in employment.

- Better digital access in the whole society for persons with visual impairments.

- The door-to-door service and guiding services.

- Braille for blind and visually impaired pupils in school.

SRF uses the text in the convention when we respond to inquiries from the government.

Also, when we are writing reports, based on member surveys or other investigations, we try to refer to the CRPD in the discussion or conclusion of the text. An example of this is our recently finished survey among older members, i.e. 65 years and older. The survey shows that participation and inclusion are very low, that elderly people with visual impairments often are dependent on others and that they are not enjoying equal living conditions and opportunities as those without disabilities.

For example, more than four out of ten of the participants do not use internet or digital tools and services. It also shows great differences between the visually impaired and the whole population over 65 in health, economic factors and how often they experience loneliness and isolation. Furthermore, more than 50 percent of the interviewed members, at least a couple of times a week, get help from friends or relatives to buy groceries or other goods needed in daily life. Moreover, almost one out of five do not think they get help they need to move to adapted accommodation.

In the report on the study, we argue that these facts show that the Swedish state does not fulfil the provisions in the CRPD, that was ratified by the Swedish government almost fifteen years ago. For example, we refer to article 19 where it is established that Persons with disabilities shall have the right to live in society with equal choices. Among other things, people with disabilities must have access to various forms of such personal support that are necessary to support housing and participation in society and to prevent isolation and isolation.

Based on what the CRPD says we also propose measures that must be taken by the state, counties, and municipalities, in order to decrease loneliness isolation and to increase participation and inclusion in society.

Another overall goal adopted by the Parliament is that in the IT area, Sweden should be the best in the world at using digitalisation

Tiina Nummi Södergren, first vice president, SRF

Cecilia Ekstrand and Mikael Ståhl, advocacy officers, SRF