Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Georgia27 June 2016 / by Zviad Adzinbaia (author)
The Coalition for Independent Living (CIL), with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), marked National Disability Rights Day with a forum on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The event of June 14 brought representatives from disabled people’s organizations from across Georgia together with local, national and international government officials to discuss Georgia’s progress toward ensuring full citizenship for persons with disabilities.
The message of the event underscored that “persons with disabilities in Georgia tend to be excluded from mainstream society, unable to realize their political, social, economic, and cultural rights. They are often subject to unequal social treatment and are victims of almost daily discrimination.”
Notably, two years ago, the Parliament of Georgia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which recognizes that differently abled people require equality, dignity, autonomy, independence, inclusion, and accessibility. Similarly, over 200 participants of the forum reviewed their personal progress and challenges since the ratification and evaluated ongoing reforms.
As a panel speaker, Minister of Justice of Georgia, Tea Tsulukiani, declared that the government is pushing the process of adaptation of public buildings for the physically disabled. “The government strongly support the principle: equal opportunities for all,” the Minister stated.
Chairman of the Coalition for Independent Living (CIL), Giorgi Dzneladze moderated the conference, describing the UNCRPD as a ‘Bible’ for the disabled and calling on the government and other stakeholders to broaden engagement in the Convention’s execution.
US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian C. Kelly, emphasized that persons with disabilities should be enabled to be equal members of their communities and to realize themselves. Kelly expressed his support toward the government’s implementation of the UNCRPD.
Georgia’s Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili also asked for the government’s greater engagement, criticizing them for ‘insufficient efforts’ in terms of effectively enforcing the existing legislation and incorporating efficient control mechanisms in the process. According to Nanuashvili, there were cases of some Members of Parliament insulting disabled persons publicly. He urged the government to punish such acts in the future.
As part of the forum, in order to combat negative attitudes toward persons with disabilities, CIL and Youth Media Union brought together persons with disabilities and their family members, wounded warriors, students, celebrities, and other supporters for a public march from Rose Revolution Square to April 9th Square. In addition, a cultural fair was held on the Square that included a photo exhibition, wheelchair race, dance performance, and the Paralympic sport, Boccia.
According to Article 1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as of 2006, Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
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