Cases violating CRPD art 13(1) (potential) (5)

Note that committees can record actual or potential violations.

Article 13 - Access to justice

1. States Parties shall ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural and age-appropriate accommodations, in order to facilitate their effective role as direct and indirect participants, including as witnesses, in all legal proceedings, including at investigative and other preliminary stages.

CRPD art 13(1)

Beasley v Australia (CRPD, 2016)

Remedy's assessment: Unremedied

Ms Beasley is Deaf and uses Auslan to communicate. Summoned to perform jury duty, she was turned away because she requires an Auslan interpreter to communicate with hearing jurors and others in the courtroom. The Committee found this denial of a ‘reasonable accommodation’ to allow Ms Beasley to exercise her legal capacity on an equal basis was a violation of her rights to equality before the law (art 5(1)), to reasonable accommodation (art 5(3)), to equal access to information and communications (art 9(1)), to access to justice (art 13(1)), freedom of expression (art 21(b)) and to participate in the conduct of public affairs (art 29(b)).

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities agreed that reasonable accommodation would be to allow an Auslan interpreter to take an oath regarding confidentiality of jury deliberations.

Read more on Beasley v Australia.

Doolan v Australia (CRPD, 2019)

Remedy's assessment: Unremedied

A young man from central Australia was arrested for offences committed while suffering psychosis. He was deemed unfit to stand trial due to his intellectual impairment, but the court ordered that he remain in custody. He was held indefinitely in maximum security prison for over 7 years – far longer than any sentence that might have been imposed had he been tried and convicted – and he was, at times, held in solitary confinement, subjected to involuntary treatment and given ‘very limited or no access’ to mental health and disability services or rehabilitation programs.

The Committee found that Australia did not provide Mr Doolan with the accommodation and supports he needed to stand trial, to exercise legal capacity and access justice (art. 12(2), 12(3) & 13(1). Mr Doolan was deprived of his right to a fair trial and of the equal protection and benefit of the law (art. 5(1) & (2). Mr Doolan’s indefinite detention was arbitrary and his treatment, including solitary confinement, involuntary treatment, violence from other prisoners, denial of habilitation, rehabilitation, mental health and support services, was degrading, in violation of article 15.

Read more on Doolan v Australia.

Leo v Australia (CRPD, 2019)

Remedy's assessment: Unremedied

A young man was arrested for an assault committed while he was apparently suffering psychosis. He was deemed unfit to stand trial due to his intellectual impairment, but the court ordered that he remain in custody. He was held indefinitely in maximum security prison for over 9 years – far longer than any sentence that might have been imposed had he been tried and convicted – and he was, at times, held in solitary confinement, subjected to involuntary treatment and given ‘very limited or no access’ to mental health and disability services or rehabilitation programs.

The Committee found that Australia did not provide Mr Leo with the support he needed to stand trial, to exercise legal capacity and access justice (art. 12(2), 12(3) & 13(1). Mr Leo was deprived of his right to a fair trial and of the equal protection and benefit of the law (art. 5(1) & (2). Making public mental health services conditional on people with disabilities living in an institution is discriminatory (art. 5). Australia justified Mr Leo’s arbitrary detention on the basis of his disability (art. 14(1)(b)) and his treatment was inhuman and degrading (art. 15).

Read more on Leo v Australia.

Lockrey v Australia (CRPD, 2016)

Remedy's assessment: Unremedied

Mr Lockrey is Deaf and requires real-time steno-captioning in order to communicate. He was summoned to serve as a juror, but when he informed authorities he would need steno-captioning in order to serve as a juror, the NSW Sheriff refused, claiming that to have a captioner in the jury room would breach the confidentiality of jury deliberations.

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found that Australia had discriminated against Mr Lockrey by failing to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate him, noting that a captioner could take an oath of confidentiality in order to be present in the jury room. The Committee further found violations concerning Mr Lockrey’s right to accessibility, to express himself ‘in official interactions’ and to equal access to justice.

Read more on Lockrey v Australia.

Noble v Australia (CRPD, 2016)

Remedy's assessment: Partially remedied

A court decided an intellectually impaired teen facing criminal charges was unfit to plead; he was imprisoned indefinitely without trial. A psychologist determined that with appropriate assistance the author was capable of standing trial, but the charges were dropped owing to insufficient evidence. After 10 years in prison, the man was released on restrictive conditions of unlimited duration and with no avenue of appeal to have them lifted.

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found Mr Noble was denied a fair trial, equal protection under the law, and the support he required to exercise his legal capacity. The Committee found his disability was the ‘core cause’ of his deprivation of liberty, which it deemed arbitrary and a form of inhuman and degrading treatment.

In response, Australia admitted failures, but denied violating Mr Noble’s rights and declined to comply with any of the Committee’s recommendations.

Read more on Noble v Australia.