Omissions in new disability rights bill
12 May 2014
Human Rights Watch (HRW) proposes new legislation aimed at protecting the rights of people with disabilities
Civil rights defenders have welcomed amendments to the legislation affecting the rights of people with disabilities but stress that these will not eradicate a number of key gaps.
Yesterday the government of the Russian Federation (RF) approved a bill aimed at putting such people on a level playing field with other citizens regarding civil rights. Amendments to 25 laws govern these rights in the fields of social welfare, culture, transport, health, information communication housing policy, access to justice and electoral rights.
The State Duma (Parliament) should approve these amendments according to HRW. ‘Parliament should also embark on additional amendments to the legislation for protecting the rights of people with cognitive disabilities and of ensuring effective application of the law’, declared the human rights defenders.
However, HRW emphasised that the proposed amendments will not cure a range of key defects in the legislation. What is mainly in mind is that there is no proposal to allocate allowances and provide services to people having intellectual and psychological disabilities or developmental issues in the same way as to those who have physical or sensory disabilities under the Social Welfare of People with Disabilities in the RF Law and other relevant laws.
Andrea Mazzarino a researcher at HRW for Europe and Central Asia stated that the amendments amounted to another step forward for Russia towards ending the social isolation of people with disabilities and laying down the foundation of a more inclusive society. However she stressed that amendments were needed that provided directly for accessibility and that suited people with all types of disability.
Furthermore, HRW observed that the amendments approved by the cabinet of ministers did not cover how the government proposed to provide for implementation of the legislation dealing with accessibility. The human rights defenders mentioned that today these questions fell within the competence of the regional and urban authorities but concrete mechanisms for implementation had not been prescribed.
‘Anti-discrimination laws are an important step towards securing the rights of Russians with disabilities but too often guarantees exist only on paper. The Duma should look at the possibility of introducing additional amendments to improve the situation of people with disabilities so making sure that their rights are upheld in practice’, said Ms Mazzarino.
On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed on 5 March, the regional organisation for people with disabilities, Perspective, submitted its own proposals and points of clarification to the lower house of parliament.
Author: Georgy Ivanushkin