Public Defender’s Statement on the Law of Georgia on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Public Defender of Georgia is responding to the adoption of the Law of Georgia on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on July 14, 2020, which is an important step towards the harmonization of domestic legislation with international standards. However, the Public Defender is concerned that a number of important issues have not been taken into account despite issuance of the relevant recommendations.
The law, based on the principles of the UN Convention, defines the obligations and responsibilities of the State in terms of exercising the rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities. The adopted document obliges the Government of Georgia to develop and approve a unified strategy and action plan on the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as to establish a body responsible for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Public Defender welcomes the introduction of the term of reasonable accommodation and the introduction of an obligation to ensure equality in accordance with the principle of reasonable accommodation. It is a positive change that the article regulating the issues of health focuses on the protection of women's reproductive and sexual health and rights. It is also a positive change that a separate article is devoted to the rights of women with disabilities and that additional guarantees are provided for their protection.
The Public Defender of Georgia has repeatedly submitted her opinions relating to various editions of the draft law both to the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and the Parliament of Georgia. Although a number of the Public Defender’s recommendations have been taken into account, there remain some assessments, the consideration of which would have significantly improved the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.
In addition, the Public Defender of Georgia shares the spirit of the statement of persons with disabilities and organizations working on their rights and considers that the efforts aimed at ensuring equal, full and effective involvement of persons with disabilities and their organizations in the discussion of the draft law were insufficient.
According to the Public Defender, the following issues remain problematic:
- The deadlines set by the transitional provisions of the law are quite long and do not provide a timely or immediate solution to the systemic problems faced by persons with disabilities, which is especially problematic in terms of introducing a biopsychosocial model of disability assessment. According to the law, the action plan must be approved by January 1, 2023, which further delays the resolution of one of the most problematic issues intersecting with other rights
- With regard to education, the law does not consider the challenges faced by persons with disabilities (children) left behind formal education or the obligation to solve these challenges - such as coordination between agencies, collection of statistical data and introduction of inclusion mechanisms.
- The guarantees provided by the law for the protection of the rights of persons with mental health problems are insufficient. In particular, the law does not provide for the obligations to introduce modern community-based services
- The Public Defender considers it necessary to further specify social rights and to pay special attention to the provision of adequate housing and social package for persons with disabilities
- The law does not clearly regulate the aspects of involvement of persons with disabilities and organizations working on their issues in the decision-making process
Property ownership and inheritance, equal access to bank loans, mortgages and other financial loans, as well as management of their own financial affairs by persons with disabilities, are still left beyond regulation.