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

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3. Every year on this day, the international community focuses on various issues and calls on the states to direct their efforts at those issues.

Given the many crises facing humanity today, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is increasingly doubtful. The United Nations clearly indicates the need for countries to strengthen their efforts to achieve the disability-oriented Sustainable Development Goals, noting that this should be done not only for persons with disabilities, but with and by persons with disabilities. That is why the theme of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities for 2023 is: "United in action to rescue and achieve the sustainable development goals for, with and by persons with disabilities."

Despite a number of positive steps taken at the legislative level to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in Georgia, their proper realization in practice is still problematic. Among them, there are difficulties related to ensuring the essential participation of persons with disabilities/representative organizations of persons with disabilities in the decision-making process at various levels.

The issue of proper realization of accessibility is still on the agenda. To date, no national accessibility plan has been approved, which makes it particularly difficult to ensure timely accessibility of existing buildings/structures and infrastructure for persons with disabilities. There is no standard for ensuring access to information or communication for persons with disabilities.

The problem with accessibility of physical environment, access to communication and information represent insurmountable barriers for persons with disabilities in terms of access to various programmes and services, including medical services. The introduction of rehabilitation programmes, as well as programmes aimed at enabling persons with disabilities to live independently, is a challenge.

Protecting the rights of people with mental health problems also remains a problem. The implementation process of the 2022-2024 action plan of the 2022-2030 mental health strategy is delayed.

The implementation of one of the most important achievements in the country, the capacity reform, is at risk. One of the main obstacles to the implementation of the support model is the absence of an independent service necessary for the field. In practice, personal support is not focused on promoting the independence or autonomy of the support recipient. The reform requires fundamental changes for its proper implementation.

The lack of activities supporting independent living and the unequal distribution of relevant services are particularly noteworthy. The quality of inclusive education remains a challenges at different levels. Persons with disabilities still face difficulties in terms of employment. The stigmatizing attitude of employers represents an obstacle, which is often the result of the lack of information.

Systemic problems in practice include the need for timely introduction of the biopsychosocial model of disability assessment, low awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities, strong stigma and stereotypical attitudes of the society, especially towards persons with mental health problems; It is also necessary to strengthen work in the direction of identifying violence against persons with disabilities and responding to the alleged acts of violence.

Considering this year's theme of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Public Defender once again calls on the state agencies to work in a coordinated manner to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with and by persons with disabilities. The Public Defender emphasizes the need to consider issues related to persons with disabilities in all areas, because the full realization of the rights of persons with disabilities is an integral part of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been celebrated annually since 1992 by the decision of the United Nations General Assembly. Celebration of this day aims to promote the support of the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities by the states, society and international community, as well as to raise awareness of the benefits of integration of persons with disabilities in political, social, economic and cultural life.

Woking Hours: Monday–Friday 9:00–18:00
Hot line: 1481 (24/7)