Research to improve access to justice for people with disabilities
UC3M/DICYT The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) is taking part in a European research project called Just4All, coordinated by the ONCE Foundation, which aims to improve access to justice for people with disabilities through awareness and training of law professionals in the European Union.
This research project is part of the area of universal access to justice, which aims to guarantee that all people can access legal defence of their rights, breaking down all kinds of barriers (physical, sensory, cognitive or attitude) that prevent this. “For this, it is important to create awareness among legal professionals in their work around these people’s needs and to provide them with knowledge on their rights”, asserts the head of the project at the UC3M, Rafael de Asís, professor of Philosophy of Law and researcher from the UC3M Bartolomé de las Casas Institute of Human Rights.
The aim of this project is to analyse the situation and improve the fulfilment “of a right (access to justice) that is the entrance door to the protection of all other rights”, comments Rafael de Asís. In order to carry it out, the researchers will conduct a study on the regulations and barriers that exist in this area, in dialogue with people who have disabilities themselves, and they will start up courses and workshops aimed at the legal community. In this regard, on the 11th April a seminar was held on the UC3M Madrid-Puerta de Toledo campus during which topics such as the barriers for people with disabilities during legal proceedings and the consequences of legal decisions relating to their freedom were addressed.
“Although access to justice is one of the fundamental rights recognised by the Spanish Constitution and which forms part of the International Agreements in relation to rights ratified by Spain, there are still a number of barriers in the way of this right being met in the area of disability. Physical barriers are the most visible, but along with those there are also cognitive barriers, which affect many people (and not only people considered to have a disability)”, confirms De Asís. And this situation, he adds, is very similar to what happens in the other European countries.
In order to achieve the proposed objectives, different actions will be carried out. On the one hand, an analysis of the state of universal access to justice for people with disabilities will be carried out. On the other hand, a massive open online course (MOOC) will be designed on this topic. What’s more, a database on regulations, case law and good practice in access to justice will be created.
Just4All is a project funded by the European Union Justice Programme (number 807006), coordinated by the ONCE Foundation, which will be carried out between 2018 and 2021 and in which the UC3M is taking part alongside other organisations and companies: European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD), European Disability Forum (EDF) and Thomson Reuters Aranzadi. What’s more, it has international support from the General Council of Spanish Law (in the Spanish acronym: CGAE), General Council of Legal Authorities (in the Spanish acronym: CGPJ), the European Foundation Center (EFC) and the International Union of Notaries.