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Problems of Persons with Disabilities

26.06.2017

 
Lana Giorgidze

“Georgia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2014. Despite that there are still many challenges in the effective implementation of the Convention. Regardless our many recommendations, the facultative protocol of the Convention was not ratified yet,” Public Defender of Georgia Ucha Nanuashvili said at the presentation of the Special Report about the State of Persons with Disabilities. 

The publication prepared in accordance to the Parliamentary Report was presented to the representatives of the nongovernmental organizations and people with disabilities in the hotel Holiday Inn on June 22.

Deputy of the Public Defender Ekaterine Skhiladze said creation of effective mechanism for the implementation of the Convention is challenge and it is important to develop it in order to ensure coordination between the responsible state institutions.

“Main state challenges also include providence access to social protection, realization of the right to adequate housing and employment of persons with disabilities. In addition to this, issues of accessibility to the physical environment, infrastructure, transport and information remain a problem. The statistics about the persons with disabilities are not processed and analyzed. The state programs cannot cover the people with disabilities, including children with disabilities and their engagement in the social life, does not fully meet the target groups’ needs and is not geographically available. Proper realization of inclusive education is also problematic,” Ekaterine Skhiladze said. 

She added inclusive educational process is progressing with shortcomings. The large part of children with disabilities is not involved in the process, especially in the regions. 

The Office of Public Defender, as a result of monitoring, identified the shortcomings in the five residential institutions in the country: Tbilisi Infants’ House, Kojori Boarding House for Children with Disabilities, Dzevri Boarding House for Persons with Disabilities, Dusheti Boarding House for Persons with Disabilities, Martkopi Boarding House for Persons with Disabilities. “Institutional arrangement of the daily specialized institutions for persons with disabilities, non-adapted infrastructure, lack of professional and support staff, lack of psycho-social services and relevant professional personnel and their low qualification creates significant challenges in terms of offering services relevant to the individual needs of people with disabilities.”

Deputy of the Public Defender Ekaterine Skhiladze said the non-adapted infrastructure, lack of communication with the outside world and their families (including children), social inactivity and isolation from the society, as well as deficiencies related to administration and medical care are also among main challenges in the process of implementation of the convention. 

The Public Defender’s Office collected information whether persons with disabilities are engaged in political and public life. “Creation/operation of consultation councils on the issues of people with disabilities will be one of the forms of engaging them in the political and social lives is one of the forms on regional and local levels. Public Defender’s Office has also examined level of engagement of persons with disabilities and organizations working on their rights in the advisory boards’ composition and work in the municipalities, where such boards were created. Study results suggest that, apart from few exceptions, persons with disabilities and their representative organizations’ involvement in the local councils’ is extremely low, which may be caused by lack of information with respect of the rights of persons with disabilities and importance of their participation, as well as absence of local civic organizations and /or their inactivity.

During the presentation of the Special Report, Ekaterine Skhiladze spoke about the election rights of the persons with disabilities and noted that despite the fact that active and passive voting rights are guaranteed by national legislation for all Georgian citizens, persons with disabilities meet certain barriers in the practical realization of these rights, which in turn are linked with the accessible environment, public transport, access to information and communication problems. In general, during the electoral process universal design principles of accessibility established by the Convention are not applied.

In accordance to the report –Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Georgia, States Parties undertake to collect appropriate information, including statistical and research data, to enable them to formulate and implement policies to give effect to the Convention (Article 31). The Public Defender’s Office requested relevant information from the National Statistics Office of Georgia regarding the statistics produced, processed and distributed within their competences. Based on the analysis of received information, data collection about persons with disabilities in Georgia is only limited to the statistics gathered during census through counting the total number of persons with disabilities.

The big part of the report is dedicated to the problems of the children with disabilities and issues related with them: children under the state care, right to health, care and social rehabilitation, right to education and violence against children with disabilities. 

During 2016, cases analysis of the Public Defender’s Office shows that children with disabilities are living in poverty and cannot effectively enjoy the right to a proper and adequate life. Issue of receiving social allowances for the families with children with disabilities is one of the most important problems. From July 1, 2016 the social package for persons with severe disabilities and children with disabilities was increased and amounted 180 GEL. It should also be noted that the increased amount of social package still is not enough to cover the needs of children with disabilities. Determination of the disability status o at early age (0-3) still remains a problem. The current regulations do not allow the possibility for the early identification of problems, timely intervention and effective management ability,” the special report reads.

Deputy of the Public Defender Ekaterine Skhiladze said Right to health is not sufficiently guaranteed for all children with disabilities. Certain number of children do not receive the necessary medical consultations, examinations and drug assistance.

The special report also highlights the problems related with the inclusive pre-school education and educational process. 

“It should be noted that inclusive education funding on the level of general education is fragmented, and there is no special uniform mechanism in financing students with special educational needs. Existing model does not meet requirements of all children with such needs. Insufficient number, low qualification, non-adapted environment, poor transportation, low access to educational institutions, school equipment and educational materials are still a problem,” the report reads.

Ekaterine Skhiladze said the major challenge in relation with the children with disabilities is their protection from violence: “Herewith, following issues are problematic with this regard: protection of minors from violence, the implementation of rehabilitation program in practice, lack of social service professionals, psychologists, as well as insufficient cooperation between the relevant agencies.”
According to the special report of the Public Defender, state policy in the field of health and social protection is not sensitive towards the needs and interests of women and girls with disabilities. Despite the fact that mentioned groups based on the Convention approach are with different needs, state policy documents in the area of human rights, as well as state programs, do not imply them as an independent target groups. Their needs are not considered during creation of state program development and budgeting. “This applies to health care, social rehabilitation, education, employment and other programs.”

The report also reviews the rights of persons with disabilities in psychiatric institutions and penitentiary establishments: “Infrastructure of psychiatric institutions and development of services for psychic care are important challenges.”

The Public Defender of Georgia elaborated and sent recommendations to the Parliament of Georgia, local self-governmental bodies, Government of Georgia, the Ministry of Labor, Healthcare and Social Welfare, the State Fund for Protection and Assistance of (Statutory) Victims of Human Trafficking, Central Election Commission, the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Corrections and called on to take all necessary measures, within their competences, to ensure the defense of rights of the persons with disabilities. 

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