The Dutch House of Representatives rejected on November 15 the draft decision "General Accessibility for Persons with a Handicap or Chronic Condition." The House's view matches that of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights.
The House of Representatives rejected the draft because it did not match the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and did not contribute to making society more accessible for persons with disabilities. The House has given State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport (HWS) Martin van Rijn until December 15 to present an amended proposal.
In its advisory opinion to HWS, the Institute wrote that the decision was not concrete and ambitious enough and did not provide the intended legal certainty.
To prevent the Netherlands from contravening the UN Convention, several parts of the decision have to be substantiated, developed and amended. Only then will it be clear for providers of goods and services and employers what is expected of them.
On January 1, 2017, Article 2a of the Law on Equal Treatment on Grounds of Handicap or Chronic Condition will enter into force. This article states that providers of goods and services and employers will gradually have to ensure general accessibility for persons with disabilities.
The term "general accessibility" will be further substantiated in a government decree, based on the decision "General Accessibility for Persons with a Handicap or Chronic Condition."
One out of every eight Dutch citizens deals with a long-term physical, psychological, mental, intellectual or sensory disability. A part of them still has a disadvantaged position, preventing them from participating fully in society.
Because of their disability, they are denied access to schools or not taken on by employers. They also experience obstacles with using public transportation and in voting. Furthermore, many persons with disabilities face obstacles when accessing libraries, stores, cinemas, sports facilities and bars.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities strengthens the position of persons with disabilities since it determines that they enjoy equal rights when it comes to housing, education, transportation, employment and several other fields. The government is obliged to make sure this is achieved.
Contribution by the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights.