Realizing Universal Suffrage: An Interactive Discussion on Challenges to Ensuring the Right to Vote for People with Disabilities
Organizer: European Disability Forum (EDF), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC), Open Society Foundations (OSF)
Speakers: Pat Clarke – International Disability Alliance and EDF (moderator), Oliver Lewis – MDAC, Shantha Rau Barriga – HRW, Javier Guemes – EDF, Self advocate, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Representative from State Party delegation.
Details: Interactive discussion based on the following topics: analysis of voting rights for persons with disabilities based on examples from across the globe; analysis of why restrictions exist in some countries; advocacy strategies for challenging these restrictions; example of current advocacy to influence the European Commission for Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission) to redraft its ‘interpretive declaration’ on the right to vote for people with disabilities in line with Article 29 of the CRPD. (29)
Malin Ekman Alden
Malin Ekman Alden is Deputy Director of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs in Sweden.
Virginia Atkinson is Regional Program Coordinator of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
John Patrick Clark
John Patrick Clarke is a business consultant by profession. His son, aged 27, has Down syndrome. He has been involved with Down Syndrome Ireland since, he has been President of this organisation and has pioneered mainstream education in Ireland for people with Down syndrome. He has promoted medical research into the syndrome which led to the publication of internationally accepted guidelines for the medical management of people with the condition.
In EDF, he has been elected member of the Executive Committee and finance committee since 2005. Moreover, he is a member of the advisory board of the European Coalition on Community Living, treasurer of the Institute for Design and Disability in Ireland.
He is currently involved in independent living initiatives for people with Down syndrome in Ireland. He is also leading a campaign “My Opinion, My Vote” to ensure that People with Down syndrome and people with an intellectual disability can have access to the political system including easy-to-read manifestos etc.
In August 2009, he has been elected President of Down Syndrome International.
Michael Gannon is a feature reporter on RTE's Four Live show. Michael was spotted by TV bosses following an interview on Ireland AM about his viewpoints on people with Down syndrome's levels of political participation in Ireland. Michael is a member of Newbridge's musical and pantomime societies and performs regularly. Michael is a keen writer and is presently writing his autobiography which he hopes will inform people about living with Down syndrome. Michael is also a member of the National Advisory Council on Down syndrome.
Oliver Lewis is Executive Director of the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (www.mdac.info), an international human rights organization headquartered in Budapest, Hungary. Oliver joined MDAC at its inception in 2002 as Legal Director and has been Executive Director since September 2006. Oliver has an LLB(Hons) in Laws from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), an MA in Medical Ethics and Law from King’s College, London, and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the Open University Business School. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management (FinstLM). He is a recurrent Visiting Professor at the Legal Studies Department, Central European University in Budapest where he teaches "Mental Disability Law and Advocacy" to postgraduate human rights students. Oliver is a member of the Bar of England and Wales and is an Associate Member of the human rights barristers' set Doughty Street Chambers, London. He serves on the editorial board of the European Yearbook on European Disability Law and his publications address human rights, international law and disability.
Shantha Rau Barriga
Shantha Rau Barriga is the Disability Rights
Researcher and Advocate at Human Rights Watch. She is responsible for
monitoring developments in the field of disability rights, investigating
and reporting on discrimination and human rights violations against
persons with disabilities worldwide, and carrying out global advocacy
initiatives. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Shantha participated in
the negotiations toward the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities and has worked on a range of issues in the disability field
including legal capacity, accessibility, women and children with
disabilities, sexual and gender-based violence, rehabilitation and
access to justice.
Shantha received degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and
Diplomacy at Tufts University and the University of Michigan, and she
was a Fulbright Scholar to Austria. She speaks German and Kannada, an
Simon Walker, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Shantha Rau Barriga, disability rights researcher at Human Rights Watch shares stories from handicapped and disabled persons that have been discriminated against in a civil context. "By documenting these stories and actually raising awareness about the disenfranchisement of people with disabilities ... we'll be able to push the government in order to revise the laws and revise the practices," says Barriga.