In 2015, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN treaty body for the CRPD) examined Germany with respect to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) for the first time. Following the session in which it conducted the review in Geneva, the body of independent experts drew up its "Concluding observations on the implementation in Germany". This document, which brought the review procedure to a close, uncovers and identifies problems, raises points of criticism and formulates recommendations for Germany.
The National CRPD Monitoring Mechanism has analysed and evaluated the Concluding Observations:
After a brief section highlighting positive aspects of the implementation in Germany (see paragraph 4), the Committee raises a great many points of concern and formulates recommendations on how Germany should improve CRPD implementation, noting particular aspects it should take into account in doing so (paragraphs 5–62). In the final section of the document, the Committee discusses measures to be taken to follow up on and disseminate the Concluding Observations (paragraphs 63-67).
Among other actions, the Committee recommends that Germany do the following:
Elements raised in the recommendations that are relatively new with respect to the discussion in Germany are an inclusive emergency call system and disaster risk reduction (paragraph 24), as well as the strong emphasis on the perspective of persons with migration backgrounds and refugees.
With regard to inclusion, the Committee called on Germany to make it easier for persons with disabilities to live independently in their communities (paragraph 42(b)) rather than retain dual structures in the spheres of education, housing and employment. This specifically includes but is not limited to scaling down the number of segregated schools (paragraph 46(b)) and gradually phasing out sheltered workshops in favour of employment in the primary labour market (paragraph 50(b)).
The Committee devotes particular attention to protection of the right to integrity of the person. It calls for strengthening protections against violations of physical and mental integrity for women and girls (paragraph 36), older persons in long-term care (paragraph 34), and intersex children (paragraph 38(d)). The rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities and the structural prerequisites for inclusion are major focuses in the document as a whole though.
More than one of the recommendations testify to the Committee’s concern that Germany is having difficulty respecting the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities. The Committee recommends banning the use of physical and chemical restraints in institutions for persons with disabilities (paragraph 34(b)), for example. It also points out that psychiatric treatments and services must always be performed on the basis of free and informed consent (paragraph 38(b), supported by paragraph 48).
In April 2016, Germany is required to submit information on measures taken to implement the Committee's recommendations to strengthen protection of women and girls against violence (paragraph 36). Germany is be expected to submit its next periodic report by no later than 24 March 2019 (paragraph 67).
The Committee's Concluding Observations elucidate the wide range of tasks that Germany must tackle to continue implementing the rights of persons with disabilities in a consistent manner. The Committee succeeds in this context in taking due account of the complexity of German federalism, while also addressing the different levels of government – federal, Länder and local authorities – and identifying activities associated with the three different branches of government (legislative, executive and judiciary).
The wide-ranging character of state obligations makes it clear that implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities is a task for every domain of state authority.
The Concluding Observations provide Germany with an excellent opportunity to clarify social policy issues that have been the subject of controversy here in recent years. The Committee's recommendations constitute the basis and the framework for guiding policy and state action in the coming years.