Public Defender’s Statement on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the celebration of which serves to promote the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development and to raise awareness about them. The theme this year is "BuildingBackBetter: toward adisability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19world".

Various restrictions, quarantine and isolation measures introduced for the prevention of the virus in Georgia have had a negative impact on persons with disabilities and their families. Provision of information about the novel coronavirus through the forms and means accessible to them has been identified as one of the problems; the provision of essential services to persons with disabilities is suspended; inclusive educational process is faulty at all levels of education; distance learning in accessible formats as well as access to communication tools and the Internet is a challenge.

The rules for controlling the spread of the infection are not properly observed in state care facilities and inpatient psychiatric clinics, and the protocols of treatment of people with mental health problems are not effectively enforced in the context of COVID-19.

Despite numerous calls of the Public Defender, the new anti-crisis economic plan of the Government of Georgia again does not adequately address the needs of persons with disabilities, while the measures taken by the local municipalities are not effective and cannot meet the individual needs of people with disabilities.

In addition to the challenges posed by coronavirus, it is problematic that the country still has no national mechanism for implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Optional Protocol to the Convention has not been ratified either.

The Public Defender of Georgia considers that finding a timely solution to the existing problems is important for the proper protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and creation of decent living conditions for them. At the same time, the Public Defender calls on the State to start planning the measures needed to create a sustainable and inclusive society in the post-COVID-19 period and to actively support the involvement and equal participation of persons with disabilities, their families and legal representatives, as well as organizations of persons with disabilities, in this process.

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