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Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2020 and Disability Rights

A blister pack of pills. © 2019 Daniel Hartley-Allen for Human Rights Watch
January 20, 2020

Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released their World Report 2020—an annual review of human rights around the globe. In Canada, HRW reported that progress has been made in many human rights areas, such as LGBTQ rights; however, shortcomings persist in adequately addressing Indigenous self-determination rights, prolonged solitary confinement, and regulatory laws for Canadian extractive companies, to name a few. 

HRW also separately recapped The Year in Disability Rights, examining the progress made on disability rights around the world in 2019 as well as the abuses and violations we still need to address, including the shackling of people with mental health conditions and the barriers people with disabilities still face to quality education.

SCSC has worked closely with HRW’s Disability Rights Division over the last few years to document the impact of social isolation on people with disabilities. Our Social Connectedness Fellows have also worked with HRW to better understand social isolation facing older women in the Canadian workforce, migrants with disabilities in the Canadian legal system, and older people in the UK’s social care system

Most recently, SCSC collaborated with HRW on their report, “‘Fading Away’: How Aged Care Facilities in Australia Chemically Restrain Older People with Dementia,” which uncovered the prevalent use of drugs—many of which were dangerous antipsychotics—to control older people with dementia. “When older people are silenced by drugs rather than given person-centered support, it risks their health and insults their humanity,” said Bethany Brown, researcher on older people’s human rights and author of the report. “Older people with dementia need an understanding helping hand, not a pill.” 

SCSC believes that everyone has the right to belong and live in dignity. We are grateful to work in close partnership with HRW to continue calling out the pervasive impacts of social isolation and human rights abuses against older people and people with disabilities. Together, we aim to advocate for inherent human rights to be upheld everywhere and for everyone.