5th Anniversary of Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
On 15 April 2019, a conference was organized by the Public Defender of Georgia and the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the South Caucasus, the theme of which was the achievements and challenges relating to the 5th anniversary of the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In her welcome speech, Public Defender Nino Lomjaria briefly spoke about the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. According to her, even though certain measures have been taken, we still do not have a mechanism responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Convention. Consequently, despite the recommendations prepared by the Public Defender over the years, the country has no common vision on the implementation of this crucial international treaty in practice; fragmented actions of various agencies fail to fully realize the rights of persons with disabilities and improve the quality of their life.
5 years have passed since the ratification, but no systemic changes have been carried out for the harmonization of the national legislation with the requirements of the National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The reform of the capacity institution and relevant changes made to the legislation in 2015, as well as the amendments to the law on general education, can be described as significant steps forward. The Ministry of Justice coordinated the preparation of a draft law on the rights of persons with disabilities, which has not yet been submitted to the Parliament.
Certain state and municipal programmes have been launched to facilitate the employment, ablation/rehabilitation and health care of persons with disabilities, but, unfortunately, they cannot respond to the public needs.
The Public Defender's Office has been carrying out the functions of an independent mechanism of monitoring the Convention at the national level since 2014. The assessments and recommendations of the Public Defender are reflected in annual parliamentary and special reports, but, unfortunately, the rate of their implementation is not high.
Nino Lomjaria emphasized the necessity of engagement of persons with disabilities in the implementation and monitoring of the Convention. She underlined the performance of the Consultative Council under the Public Defender, the aim of which is to promote engagement of persons with disabilities in the process of monitoring; the community of persons with disabilities is represented by 9 visiting members in the Council.
The Public Defender has prepared and submitted an alternative report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the UN Committee and is ready to be actively involved in the United Nations discussions.
Speeches were delivered and the situation of persons with disabilities in Georgia was reviewed at the conference by Vladimir Shkolnikov, Senior Human Rights Adviser for South Caucasus, and Rusudan Kokhodze, Deputy Head of the Department of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the Public Defender's Office.