Human Rights Report on Moldova: Protection of persons with disabilities

In any society there were, there are, and there will be people with disabilities. Moreover, the statistical data are not encouraging at all; their number is continuously growing in the Republic of Moldova.In this context it is particularly important for the society to learn to live together with these people, to ensure the respect of their rights and create conditions to make the most of the potential, that nature endowed them with, or which they have acquired along the way. Changing attitudes towards these people should start by unconditionally acknowledging the equally of their human rights with other members of the society. Although, it seems generally accepted, however, that the inherent human rights are still truncated in the case of persons with disabilities.

By ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on July 9, 2010,  the state committed to ensure and promote the exercise of full rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities and without any discrimination because of their disability. In this purpose, the state is obliged to consult and involve the disabled people in developing and implementing policies and legislation to apply the Convention and other decision-making processes on issues for people with disabilities.

In this respect, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities serves as a reference framework for the successful implementation of the social protection reform in progress in Moldova, which would actually improve the quality of life for the 179,815  people with disabilities in our country. The document establishes minimum universal standards for actions and concrete steps that would ensure inclusion of people with disabilities in all areas of social life. One of the most important changes related to the worldwide paradigm shift in disability is: from a medical and social assistance model of approach to disability to the social model of social inclusion.

At present, it is extremely important to establish concrete and viable mechanisms for the realization of the commitments taken by the Republic of Moldova in the context of ensuring compliance with international standards on the rights of persons with disabilities.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities expressly established in Article 33   the implementation and monitoring mechanisms at national level under the Convention rigors. It should be noted that at government level, there is not designated yet a coordinating mechanism to facilitate the actions in different sectors and levels for the implementation of the Convention or at least it is not clear what this is. However, currently the Government Council is working on issues for disabled people,  but the aspects of implementing the Convention are not found in its powers and duties.

The ombudsmen recommend the Government to designate this important mechanism or to revise the powers of the Government Council on Issues for Persons with Disabilities. At the same time, the ombudsmen stress the need to unify the concepts used in policy documents and in the legislation with regard to disability, including Article 51 of the Supreme Law "disabled persons", to bring them in line with international standards.  This is especially important, because in 2012, the State must submit to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a comprehensive report on the measures taken for the implementation of the Convention and the progress achieved as consequence of these measures.

In the context of implementing the strategy on social inclusion of persons with disabilities (2010-2013),   there is some progress regarding the reform of social assistance and protection of persons with disabilities. The goals of the Strategy fully meet the Convention, regarding the adjustment of the national legal framework to European and international standards on the rights of people with disabilities; the reorganization of structures and institutions responsible for coordinating the system of social inclusion of people with disabilities; the development and approval of a new methodology for determining the disability in children and adults, according to the international Classification of functioning, disability and health provisions, etc.

The drafting and approval of the draft law on social inclusion of people with disabilities, according to the Strategy, is the first stage of implementation, planned for 2010, as it was approved in its first reading by the end of 2011. Accordingly, the realization of the next steps, aimed at adjusting the regulatory framework in the field to the standards of the new Law on social inclusion of people with disabilities, is delayed.In this context, the ombudsmen encourage the interested parties to join efforts to ensure the process of Strategy implementation a dynamic and rhythmic character.

Meanwhile, the people with disabilities continue to face serious obstacles in the process of their participation as equal members in civil, political, social, economic and cultural life. Moreover, in the reporting period, the problems testified by  people with disabilities have not undergone significant changes, including: unsatisfactory social services; the legal framework not adjusted to international standards in ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities; the method of establishing disability; low placement in employment and reduced incentives for hiring people with disabilities;  limited access for people with disabilities to social infrastructure as a result of the incompatibility of the physical environment from the architectural point of view, limited access to the informational environment; society's tolerance towards the problems of persons with disabilities.

Admitting that these problems involve significant financial resources both from the local and the national budgets, the ombudsmen are of the opinion that the solution of certain issues may be commenced in stages, starting with the actions that do not involve financial resources to more expensive projects. For the transposition into life of the provisions of the Convention, the ombudsmen advocate for the realization of a complex of actions. The creation of an information system, including by adjusting to international standards the methods of collecting and distributing, according to the categories of disability, statistical data; the promotion of public awareness campaigns by organizing public debates, discussions, etc.; development and support of the associative sector on the protection of the rights of the people with disabilities able to perceive their needs and requirements, able to formulate problems and promote solutions at national and local levels. It is also necessary to ensure financial attractiveness of activities for social integration of persons with disabilities; to educate a positive attitude in society to support the people with disabilities, by encouraging the media to address issues related to persons with disabilities in its productions in a manner that corresponds to the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. According to the ombudsmen’s convictions, the success of these actions will create preconditions to reform the current system of rehabilitation of disabled and to form a favourable environment for the social integration of this category of persons.

The identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers that prevent people with special needs from access to social infrastructure, as required by Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will undoubtedly contribute to ensuring an independent and participatory live of people with disabilities. In its further work carried out in 2010 on the extent of ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities , the Centre for Human Rights conducted an assessment of the situation in terms of access to education for children and youth with locomotion disabilities , intending to impulse the authorities’ actions aimed at redressing the situation in this respect.

The people with locomotion deficiencies are largely dependent on a third person to self-serve and to move because of lack of access ways. Although there are regulations on building access ways to all public institutions,  so far the access ways are built without respecting the technical standards, are impassable, or are completely missing. Among the problems faced by children/young people with locomotion disabilities in achieving their right to education within the general educational system, stated by ombudsmen, are limited access because of architectural barriers and failure to provide children/young people with impaired locomotion with special means to travel.
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