Poland: victims of sexual abuse with disabilities face discrimination in criminal justice system

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear whether Polish courts were right to overturn the conviction of a man charged with rape against a individual with an intellectual disability. The conviction was overturned when Polish courts threw out evidence from the victim due to his disability. The ECtHR has granted leave to intervene in the case to respected and expert international charity the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre (MDAC). The submission states that people with disabilities must “not [be] excluded from the protection of the justice system” through discriminatory rules of evidence and  that international law requires that people with disabilities have the same protection before the law as anyone else, without discrimination. It goes on to say that courts have an obligation to make adjustments to ensure that the evidence of people with disabilities can be taken, and that governments must act to protect such persons from abuse. The submissions also consider the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) can inform how the Court interprets the principles of equality and non-discrimination when it decides cases affecting the rights those with disabilities.


The submission were co-authored by Dr. Isabel Clare, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist at the University of Cambridge. 


Further information about the case is available in MDACs website.


Doughty Street Chambers barrister Louise Price assisted MDAC with their intervention.  The Executive Director of MDAC is Oliver Lewis, an associate tenant at Doughty Street.

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