We are pleased to share this important update from Human Rights Watch (HRW) on the French Government’s intention to grant the right to vote to all persons with disabilities in France.
As HRW notes, currently Article 5 of France’s Electoral Code allows a judge to deprive people who have been assigned a guardian to make decisions on their behalf of the right to vote, and this can adversely impact persons with disabilities. However, State Secretary for Persons with Disabilities, Sophie Cluzel, has declared she wants people with disabilities under guardianship to have the right to vote. This follows the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights’ call in January 2017 to repeal Article 5, which was also recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of people with disabilities.
This is a critical step forward for the inclusion of all individuals in French democratic society, and sets a crucial, positive precedent for other countries to follow. Because, to prevent persons with disabilities from exercising their fundamental democratic right to vote is to undermine their freedom of expression and agency to shape policies that affect them. And this only serves to divide communities and undermine social connectedness, as certain people are made to feel ‘less than’.