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Public Defender’s Statement on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Light of Ongoing Developments

In light of the developments around the coronavirus, the Public Defender of Georgia stresses the need to provide information to vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities, and to protect their rights.

It is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic to provide information to persons with disabilities in an accessible format so as not to endanger the realization of their rights to health, education, social protection, etc.

The Public Defender of Georgia calls on the Government of Georgia, service providers and local self-governments to ensure that persons with disabilities are informed about the current situation, the decisions made and the preventive measures to be taken by the authorities.

Specifically, information should be provided by using sign language, digital technology, subtitles, mobile messaging, voice services, easy-to-read and simplified language. Particular emphasis should be placed on informing and supporting persons with disabilities in psychiatric institutions or under state care.

It should be borne in mind that the current situation should not jeopardize the provision of services for persons with disabilities, such as habilitation-rehabilitation, auxiliary aids, drugs for chronic illnesses (including mental health), home care for children with severe and deep developmental disabilities, etc. It is important for the State to take active steps to support persons with disabilities in this process, including by timely developing and implementing alternative methods of delivering these services. At the same time, it is essential that the needs of persons with disabilities, including access to quarantine zones and necessary medical services, be appropriately considered in the plans for combating the pandemic.

The Public Defender continues to monitor the rights situation of persons with disabilities, within the framework of which, the Public Defender’s Office will monitor and analyze the situation in state care centers, psychiatric institutions/outpatient clinics, resource schools and services across the country (including day care centers).

The statement of CatalinaDevandas Aguilar, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, regarding the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities during the current Covid 19 pandemic was posted on the official website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on March 17. According to the Special Rapporteur, although most persons with disabilities belong to a high risk group, only little has been done to provide them with necessary support and recommendations.

The Public Defender of Georgia believes that it is important to consider the opinions expressed in the statement and to ensure that information is accessible for all. We are offering the Georgian translation of the statement.

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