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The European voice for informal carers

A Landmark UN carers decision

Towards the end of 2022, there was a potentially landmark decision of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in relation to the rights of unpaid/family carers.

The case of Maria Simona Bellini v. Italy (3 October 2022, Communication No. 51/2018) involved an individual caring for their ‘profoundly disabled’ daughter and also for their disabled partner.

This case marks the first time that the Committee has examined claims of ‘discrimination by association’. The principal argument in the case was that the lack of legal recognition and support left the individual, as a family caregiver, and her family, at risk of negative and heavy consequences to their health, finances, and personal and social life.

In this case, the Committee found that whilst there are no rights for unpaid/family carers within the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), ‘the rights of persons with disabilities cannot be realised without the protection of family caregivers’ (para 6.8). The Committee went onto conclude that as a result, Article 28(2)(c) of the CRPD ‘recognises the right of family caregivers to State protection provided that this recognition is indivisibly linked to the protection of the rights of family members with disabilities’.

In addition to recommending individual compensation for the applicant, the Committee also required Italy take action to ensure they prevent similar future violations.

You can find more information about the case at Italy: Lack of financial and social support to family of people with disabilities amounted to human rights violation, UN Committee finds | OHCHR.

A copy of the full decision is available at

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