Public Defender's Statement on National Day of Persons with Disabilities

On June 14 Georgia has been marking the National Day of Persons with Disabilities for many years, but each time we have to speak about significant problems and challenges in the field of protection of human rights of these persons. Despite some positive steps, the state still fails to properly implement the rights of persons with disabilities and create equal opportunities for their independent living.

There are significant problems in the country in terms of legislative regulation, as well as enforcement of the current regulations.

3 years after the enactment of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, creation of an effective mechanism for the implementation of the Convention continues to be a challenge, which hinders the coordinated and effective performance of the agencies responsible for the implementation of the Convention. The issue of ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention is still on the agenda.

Harmonization of the legislation with international standards, low level of public awareness, access to services and programs oriented to the needs of persons with disabilities, as well as availability of environment, information, education and employment, support to full and effective participation in public life and other important issues remain to be significant challenges and require urgent solution.

The sources of the problems are the delay in the introduction of a social model and the lack of necessary statistics. Unfortunately, granting the status of the person with disabilities is still based on the person’s medical diagnosis. In addition, statistics are not maintained or analyzed, which would have ensured development and implementation of a necessary policy for the effective implementation of the Convention, as well as introduction of needs-based approaches during planning and implementing programs.

Recently there has been an unfortunate tendency of discriminatory treatment of persons with disabilities both in the public and private spheres. The Public Defender established a number of cases of discrimination/promotion of discrimination of persons with disabilities. This makes it clear that persons with disabilities are subjected to unjustified, different treatment in almost all areas of life, which, in most cases, violates their dignity.

The Public Defender urges the legislative and executive authorities to carry out more efforts for the implementation of the obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, strengthen positive measures aimed at progressive realization of the rights of persons with disabilities, support their independent living and appropriate involvement in social life, including in the decision-making process.

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