A sentence of the Spanish Constitutional court recognizes that public funding of compulsory education in non-governmental schools with legitimate pedagogical options, is a constitutional duty to guarantee the freedom of approach of the right to education :

On April 10th of last year, the Spanish Constitutional Court of Spain in its judgment 31/2018 resolved a conflict on the funding of single sex schools that shed some light on the obligations of the state regarding public funding for non-governmental schools. About single sex schools the sentence mention that “the system of single-sex education is a pedagogical option which cannot be deemed as discriminatory. Therefore, it can be a part of the right of any private or non-governmental school to establish its own character”. About the particular character of a school the sentence continues saying that this ethos “can be considered to a great extent (…) the point of convergence that makes possible the exercise of the right of creation of educational institutions and the right of parents to choose the kind of education that they wish for their children, putting in connection educational supply and demand”.

Concerning the funding for these schools it says that the “public authorities shall give aid to teaching establishments which meet the requirements to be laid down by the law”. Moreover, recalling that basic education is compulsory and free by the Constitution the Court concludes that “it is incumbent upon the public authorities to promote conditions which ensure that the freedom and equality of individuals and of the groups to which they belong may be real and effective, to remove the obstacles which prevent or hinder their full enjoyment, and to facilitate the participation of all citizens in political, economic, cultural and social life”. The sentence continues “This constitutionally guaranteed free education cannot refer exclusively to the governmental or public school, denying it all private or non-governmental schools, since this would imply the compulsory nature of such a governmental education, at least at the basic level, preventing the real possibility to choose the basic education in any private centre. This would cut from the root not only the right of parents to choose a teaching centre, but also the right to create teaching centres enshrined in Article 27.6 of the Spanish Constitution (The right of individuals and legal entities to set up educational centres is recognised, provided they respect Constitutional principles). In this sense, public funding of private schools is at the service of the provision content enshrined in art. 27.4 of the Spanish Constitution (Elementary education is compulsory and free).“

From a Human Rights perspective we can celebrate this sentence for many reasons. First, because it considers the article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from a holistic perspective without dividing the freedom approach and the provision approach of the right to education. Second, and as a consequence of the first reason, because it considers the freedom approach of the right to education as something that goes beyond a mere liberty. Third, because its multiple references to international instruments such as the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the General Comment n°13 on the Right to Education.

Here you have the link to the entire sentence: https://www.boe.es/buscar/doc.php?id=BOE-A-2018-6823

Ignasi Grau

 

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REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS Edmund Rice International, May the 4th, Room XXVI

The side event organized by “Edmund Rice International” outlined the situation of the UK policies in the same day in which the UK underwent the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) at the UN.

EPI’s representatives focused on the conditions of refugees in the UK, starting from the consideration of the programs the government has put in action.

The panelists shown that, with regard to the other European countries, the UK receives only the 5% of the total flow of immigrants, number that will easily allow the improvements needed. Nonetheless, wealthy UK finds itself behind poorer countries in the ranking of European States providing quality support to the refugees. In addition, in 2016, 70% of the requests for asylum were refused, either for the absence of a document recognized or the condition of statelessness.

The accepted refugees, according to the regulations, are granted 28 days of accommodation by the government, after which they are left with no house, no employment aid and no support.

From this analysis, ERI recognized a number of charitable safety nets present in England that help refugees through these hard times. Even so, they found that the majority of asylum seekers are marginalized, constantly on the move, living in a limbo with no security or hope for the future.

In April 2017, the British Red Cross published “Can’t stay, Can’t go”, a Report on the condition of asylum seekers in the UK, highlighting how this condition of uncertainty, lack of legal representation and knowledge of the language, is the cause of enormous distress.

The other Report issued by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), “Refugees Welcome?”, focused on the absence of real projects and solutions to address the emergency of refugees. In the document, APPG suggests integrative strategies, English language teaching and to prolong to 50 days the governmental accommodation.

These Reports are in line with the intervention made by the EPI and other member States during the UK session at the UPR. They found though that the answers of the Ministry of Justice to the questions do not mirror the actual situation in the UK.

During the UPR pressure was made to ameliorate the conditions of asylum seekers and their transitions into society; at the same time, the panelists stressed, no attention was given to other very serious issues linked: food poverty and homelessness.

The representative of the “Trussel Trust”, for the elimination of food poverty in the UK, reminded that no data nor attention has been given by the government to address the issue of food poverty. Generally caused by benefit changes and delays, this condition could be easily avoided by governmental interventions and programs.

Homelessness in Northern Ireland is another issue very sensitive and not addressed in the UPR nor by the government. “Welcome” organization’s data show grave marginalization of the problem of a small region with a troubled historical background where the condition of homelessness touches 18,628 persons, 52% of which are single male adults.

In conclusion, the welfare reforms and safety net claimed by the Ministry of Justice at the UPR session, according to the representative of Welcome, cannot be found on the ground. Furthermore, the panelists find necessary for the government to recognize organizations as more than safety net and to implement its project in order to reach the standards set in the international documents that the UK signed.

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Beatrice Bilotti

How human resources services can empower jobseekers with disabilities – Side event March the 17 th , Permanent Mission of Austria

People with disabilities represent a significant group in our society and a big potential not fully realized. As reminded by H.E. Thomas Hajnoczi, Permanent representative of Austria to the UN in Geneva, there are all types of barriers hindering the full enjoyment of a normal life, may them be physical, economical, social, or obstacles to health services, access to education, employment full time. The reasons of this marginalization may be different, from the weak voice people with disabilities have in the political process, to the lack of comparable data on labor market participation that limits the interventions. On the bright side, polices of inclusiveness are developing, Austria and other countries have laws binding companies to employ one person with disability every 25 employees. Most of the time though the companies prefer to pay the sanction instead of complying with the quota.

The testimony of Fernanda Almeida, President of the National Federation of Persons with Autism from Brazil and member of RIADIS, stressed the difficulty for employers to see beyond the appearances. For her, as for Matthieu Chatelin, Cerebral Palsy European Community’s Association and Youth leader of the European Disability Forum, a good CV is not sufficient. There are numerous barriers to overcome, from the initial demonstration that they are capable of doing their job to the adjustment in terms of space. Some employers do not consider how easy it can be to overcome structural barriers because they just focus on what they cannot do.

Education is highlighted by all the panelist as the most important tool to overcome the difficulties, as instrument that can guarantee a future within the society. It is a responsibility of the States to assure accessibility to education, training and employment, but usually it is not guaranteed. The isolated condition in which the State leaves people with disabilities, may it be a direct or indirect result, is an alarm for the civil society organizations that work hard to give fair chances to people with disabilities.

Ms. Virginia Carcedo Illera, CEO and General manager of Incerta empleo, showed the effort and work realized by Incerta during the years of its existence. Working for university and employment accessibility and inserting over 200 thousand people with disabilities in its database. With a system based on ICF skill oriented approach, they connect people to the companies, focusing on the capabilities and compatibility with the firm.

On the same issue, Zero Project, as an international initiative founded by the Austrian ESSL foundation, monitors the application of the CRPD and identifies effective solutions and promotes knowledge exchange. The data resulted from the 2017 research showed, as already presented by the other panelists, that the laws existing are not in use and often there is no data on the condition of labor and education accessibility of people with disabilities. These deficiencies of the States show the marginal role given to the issue and the lack of interest in changing the existing situation.

Lorena-Homar
Lorena Homar, Olympic Swimmer

In conclusion, the panelists stressed the importance of a fair and equal access to education, apprenticeship and employment. To be treated as equally capable of doing a job and equally in need of living the world and relating with people is the most important thing the civil society and the companies, the governments and the employer could do. The relegation doesn’t help neither the person with disabilities nor the State, because it would miss the potentialities of its own citizens.

 

Beatrice Bilotti

Presentación del informe del Alto Comisionado de Derechos Humanos sobre los desarrollos en derechos humanos:

El Alto Comisionado de Derechos Humanos presentó su informe anual el pasado 8 de marzo, celebración del Día Internacional de la Mujer, durante el Consejo de Derechos Humanos. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein señaló como los derechos de la mujer han aumentado en todo el mundo especialmente el derecho a la educación, al trabajo y el voto.

El informe presentó las tendencias negativas en varios países contrarias a los derechos humanos, entre ellas la creciente crisis de los refugiados y el incremento de la violencia extrema y los grupos terroristas. Citó igualmente  situaciones alarmantes en lo relativo a los derechos humanos en varios países como la escalada de operaciones violentas contra las minorías Rohingya en Myanmar que se han materializado en matanzas masivas, incluidas  de niños y mujeres, así como el abandono del país de miles de refugiados. Otro episodio de gran brutalidad contra los derecho humanos es la campaña  anti-droga llevada a cabo por el gobierne de Duterte, que ya se ha cobrado más de 7000 muertes.   El informe menciona poco el derecho a la educación y los derechos económicos sociales, económicos y culturales.

No todo son malas noticias en el informe. Una buena noticia señalada por el Alto Comisionado son los esfuerzos realizados por el gobierno chino en los últimos 30 años para mejorar el sistema de salud pública, la educación de calidad y la protección de la gente mayor.

Para ver las reacciones por parte de las misiones diplomáticas se puede revisar aquí: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21331&LangID=E

Para leer el informe entero clica aquí: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21336&LangID=E

 

Ignasi Grau

Le déchaînement d’une nouvelle société : l’interdépendance des droits de l’homme II

 

Les enjeux liés à la société de l’information doit nous aider à affiner notre réflexion sur le droit à la liberté d’opinion et d’expression. On considère habituellement ce droit comme un droit liberté comme s’il suffisait à l’état de le garantir pour le faire respecter, contrairement aux droits économiques, sociaux et culturels qui seraient des droits prestations. Il est clair depuis longtemps que cette distinction est peu pertinente : le droit à la liberté d’expression ne se réduit pas à la non-censure de la part des autorités; la liberté de presse, par exemple, a toujours exigé de la part des états une action positive, généralement sous forme de subventions.

 

Aujourd’hui face aux nouvelles technologies il est devenu évident que la mise en œuvre de la liberté d’expression réclame un effort de l’Etat pour la mise en place d’infrastructure qui permette la connexion aux réseaux mondiaux de communication. Il convient de rappeler qu’il existe de nombreux  pays dans lesquelles de grandes étendues sont totalement dépourvues d’électricité.  Dans ce nouveau contexte, la distinction entre droits liberté et droits prestation semble définitivement périmée.

 

Il est évident qu’un développement équitable des technologies de l’information et de la communication est absolument indispensable non seulement à la promotion, mais aussi au respect des droits de l’homme. De nos jours, il est juste de considérer qu’un peuple qui n’a pas accès à ces technologies est lésé dans son droit d’opinion et d’expression, tant sa capacité de s’informer et de s’exprimer est réduite par rapport aux autres. La société de l’information qui nous amène de nouveaux outils pour lutter en faveur des droits de l’homme peut devenir paradoxalement aussi une source d’inégalité en creusant le fossé qui sépare les plus riches des plus pauvres.

 

Alfred Fernandez

The Role of Civil Society in the realisation of the Right to Education

Yesterday OIDEL delivered a joint oral statement during the General Debate Item 2 & 3 of the Human Rights Council. The debate was about certain thematic reports of the OHCHR, we were specially interested on the good practices of civil society to enable human rights (click here to know more)  OIDEL together with other NGOs wanted to warn about the importance of the civil society in the realisation of the Right to Education.

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“Thank you mister president,

I speak on behalf of  OIDEL, Commission Africaine des Promoteurs de la Santé et des Droits de l’homme, Graduate Women International (International Federation of University Women), Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco (IIMA), International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development – VIDES and Teresian Association

We really appreciate this report and we think that the obligations of the public authorities towards civil society could not be better defined. OIDEL is convinced that the realization of each right requires at certain level the participation of civil society. As said in the report progress and civic participation go hand in hand. Moreover, the report quoted that “a confident nation gives citizens a say and a role in the development of their country”.

However we are surprised that this list of good practices does not include the right to education, besides certain mention to Human Rights Education. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes the right of the individuals to set up educational institutions. As stated by the Dutch Mission during the negotiation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the prior right for parents to choose the education they consider best for their children is a guarantee that education does not become a State monopoly.[1]

 Moreover, it is clear that the countries that are friendlier with the provision of education through civil society are also countries that have addressed with excellence the challenge of diversity and the accomplishment of civil rights.

The content of this report was the compilation of practical recommendations for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society. Although we think that the overall objective was well accomplished the annual report remains incomplete due to the lack of inclusion of practices concerning the provision of the right to education.

We encourage the UN OHCHR to take into consideration the role of civil society in the provision of education due to the good impact it has in the realization of friendly environment for the right to education.

In this regard, we also want to invite the UN OHCHR to review our last report “Freedom of Education Index 2016”. This report shows how the participation of civil society in the provision of education is a cornerstone of democratic societies and a guarantee for minorities in pluralistic societies.

Among the good practices we have identified we can highlight the important role in deprived areas of charter schools in the United States or the subsidized non-government schools in South Africa. The report also shows that the participation of civil society in education is compatible with quality. Among countries with the highest level of freedom of education we find some of the best PISA results; such as the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Thank you Mr. President,”

 

Ignasi Grau

[1] GLENDON, Mary Ann, 2001  A World made new. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Random House (p.159 y 190)

Début de la 115ème session du Comité des droits de l’homme: EPU sur l’Irak et droit à la vie

El Comité de Derechos Humanos ha celebrado su segunda semana de la 115a sesión en el Palais Wilson. En este artículo nos hemos centrado sobretodo en el UPR de Irak y en menor medida a la discusión sobre el derecho a la vida.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva .
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva .

Durant la 115ème session du Comité des droits de l’homme au Palais Wilson, le Comité s’est réuni pour ajourner le Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques, spécifiquement sur l’article 6 qui traite du droit à la vie. De par la récente et constante prolifération d’armes nucléaires, ainsi que des conflits armés, et de la problématique de la peine de mort, le droit à la vie s’inscrit donc pleinement dans les thématiques actuelles.

Le cinquième rapport périodique de l’Irak a ensuite été discuté. Le chef de la délégation de l’Irak a ouvert la séance avec une introduction dans laquelle il a fait part de l’importance des droits de l’homme pour l’avancée de son pays. Néanmoins, ce pays traverse une période très difficile de son histoire, marquée par des guerres, une chute de régime et des occupations étrangères. La militarisation de l’Irak a eu, selon le chef des délégués, un fort impact sur les droits de l’homme. Depuis 2003, date de la chute du régime, beaucoup de changements ont été effectués et de nouvelles lois ont été établies pour garantir les droits de l’homme. Toutefois, ces dernières années ont été marquées par la présence de groupes terroristes extrémistes, auteurs des pires violations des droits de l’homme, comme par exemple des crimes contre l’humanité et la destruction de lieux de culte. Ces groupes terroristes, contrôlant entre autres une partie du pays en question, rendent difficile la gestion de cette nouvelle démocratie. Pour bâtir cette nouvelle société, le gouvernement s’appuie sur divers acteurs régionaux et internationaux, notamment les ONG qui sont encouragées à promouvoir davantage une culture des droits de l’homme en Irak et qui s’occupent sur le terrain de l’assistance aux victimes et aux réfugiés.

Malgré ces bonnes intentions, le Comité a souligné certaines limites persistantes. Pour commencer, bien que conscients de la situation grave du pays, le Comité a noté un rôle encore marginal des femmes dans la société, ce qui les rend plus vulnérables à la menace terroriste, tel que leur enlèvement, mariages forcés et toutes les autres formes de violence auxquelles elles sont exposées.

Les enfants sont aussi particulièrement vulnérables aux violences et au déplacement des populations. En effet, dans de telles situations, il est très difficile de leur fournir leurs besoins basiques, tel que l’éducation. Le Comité demande donc quelles sont les mesures de l’Irak pour améliorer la situation des enfants, avec un regard particulier pour l’accès à l’éducation, fondamentale pour poursuivre l’objectif d’une meilleure société démocratique.

Une autre préoccupation du Comité se porte sur la peine de mort et la torture. Ils ont souligné comme en temps de guerre, il est facile de succomber à la tentation d’utiliser des mesures extrêmes pour y faire face. En effet, pour justifier l’usage de la peine de mort, les délégués ont donné l’exemple d’un terroriste qui aurait tué trente-cinq enfants en une journée ; comment résister au désir de vengeance ? Néanmoins, le Comité leur a rappelé qu’il est fondamental de penser plus loin, pour le bien général de l’humanité. En ce qui concerne la torture, son inefficacité a été démontrée par le Comité. Sous la torture, une personne est capable de tout avouer, même les pires crimes, pour être ensuite incriminée ou même subir la peine de mort, pour ce qu’elle n’aurait peut-être pas commis.  Toutes formes de violence doivent donc être bannies.

Virginie Pache et Flavio Leoni