Public Defender’s Statement on the Day of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Day of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is marked on June 14 in Georgia. The purpose of its celebration is to promote the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities and to raise public awareness of issues related to them.
It should be noted that important documents have been developed recently, which are supposed to help improve the current situation. However, it is still a challenge to fully protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
The approval of the 2023-2030 strategy for deinstitutionalization and independent living of persons with disabilities and the 2023-2025 action plan is worth emphasizing. At the same time, it is necessary to effectively monitor their implementation and solve problems associated with the process.
The need for a timely transition to the biopsychosocial system of assessing the disability status is still on the agenda. Substantial participation of persons with disabilities/organizations of persons with disabilities in the decision-making process at various levels are associated with difficulties.
The issues of improving access to health care services, introducing programmes for the rehabilitation and independent living of adults with disabilities are acute. The budget of the state mental health programme increased in 2023, however, systemic problems in the area remain unresolved. No standard for a shelter for persons with mental health problems has been developed so far, which increases the risks of violating their rights.
Amendments were made to the Civil Code of Georgia regarding the procedure for making deals by blind persons. However, it is important to harmonize the existing legislation, take a complex approach to the issue and consider the interests of people with all kinds of disabilities.
Access to information, services, buildings and facilities remains a problem for persons with disabilities. Until now, no standard has been developed to ensure access to information, means of communication, websites or mobile applications.
Another challenge is the stereotypical attitudes of persons employed in the justice and investigative system towards persons with disabilities, as well as identification of sexual or other types of violence against women with psychosocial needs, and timely and effective administration of justice.
The support system is flawed. Problems related to administration, lack of independent services, inter-agency coordination and lack of resources serve as obstacles. Insufficient number of social workers, which prevents proper monitoring of cases, is also problematic.
The quality of inclusive education at different levels remains a challenge. The lack of inclusive education specialists in the regions, difficulties relating to access of children with disabilities to the educational infrastructure, and lack of awareness of members of the school community about the issues related to inclusive education, as well as the inadequate coverage of professional education programmes and lack of student support services at the university level are problematic. Persons with disabilities still face difficulties in terms of employment.
Considering all of the above, the Public Defender of Georgia calls on all responsible bodies to take effective steps to properly protect the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities.