There are more than 1.1 million people with disabilities living in the Czech Republic. While some data on their situation are already available from various sources, others are not tracked yet in the Czech Republic. That is why the Deputy Ombudsman proposed a set of indicators that, taken as a whole, could illustrate how the Czech Republic is doing in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
„Since 2018, the Ombudsman has been tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has become clear that to make an informed assessment of the situation, we would need to collect more data, both those that relate directly to people with disabilities and those that show how the state intends to implement various articles of the Convention. Since the Ombudsman has limited possibilities in this regard, we invited representatives of state authorities and statisticians, practitioners, and academics to one place. Together we can discuss what data is already available and where it would be appropriate or possible to expand the collection of information to be able to evaluate the indicators (indicators) we have set for the implementation of the Convention,", Deputy Ombudsman Monika Šimůnková explains.
To begin with, indicators have been developed for the four articles of the Convention that are most intertwined in the lives of people with disabilities. These guarantee a life free from discrimination (Article 5) with the least possible restriction of autonomy (Article 12), promote an independent way of life (Article 19), and provide for the right to work (Article 27). People with disabilities were the first to comment directly on the proposed indicators in the Ombudsman's Advisory Body on Disability Issues.
Indicators of each of the areas monitored are divided into more detailed ones. These will, for example, determine whether people with disabilities are able to find housing outside large institutions or work on the so-called free labour market, and how many of them have experienced discrimination in Czech society.
"It is also important to monitor the differences between the situation of people with and without disabilities, for example, what is the employment rate in both groups or how long on average people with disabilities are registered with the Labour Office compared to applicants without disabilities," Helena Válková, the Government Commissioner for Human Rights, said today: "The purpose of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights for persons with disabilities. To find out how and to what extent this is happening, a wide range of professionals can help us by using the indicators discussed at today's seminar."
The Director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) added a similar perspective: „The new EU Disability Strategy offers hope for millions of people with disabilities, as it strives to ensure they can fully enjoy their rights and participate in our societies,” stressed Michael O'Flaherty „The Agency has been collecting data on the experiences of people with disabilities, to support the EU and EU countries in upholding their rights in the spirit of the Convention. Only with reliable, accurate, timely, and comparable data will countries be able to assess and monitor progress in ensuring the full participation of people with disabilities in our societies,” he added.
Proposed indicators are prepared in accordance with the social model of disability. This model does not perceive disability as a matter of a particular person but examines whether society is sufficiently responsive to the needs of people with disabilities and whether it creates conditions for their inclusion and social participation. „By tracking appropriate indicators, we can see if and how the state is removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully enjoying their rights. For example, in the Czech Republic, there are various alternatives to the restriction of legal capacity, yet the courts used them on average only in 18 % of decisions in 2014-2019. If society does not want to interfere with the fundamental rights of people with disabilities, this proportion should increase in the future," Petr Polák, a lawyer of the Ombudsman's Office, who works on the rights of people with disabilities, remarks.
José Smits, an independent expert from the European Disability Expertise network, shared her experience with the implementation of the Convention in the Netherlands at the seminar. Although the Netherlands signed the Convention in 2007, it took nine years to ratify it. According to José Smits, the biggest challenge was to get the public and politicians to think more deeply about society's attitude towards people with disabilities: „There was a general feeling that people with disabilities are very well off and are not discriminated against at all because they are able to receive generous benefits and the state offers them an extended system of special schools and care facilities. Those are considered good care in the Netherlands. Only the lack of accessibility of public buildings and spaces was perceived as a problem," the expert described.
Based on the outcomes of the international seminar, the Deputy Ombudsman plans to issue the first of a series of monitoring reports on the situation of people with disabilities. Others should follow at approximately three-year intervals. These reports can serve as a source of information for government agencies, academic and non-profit sector. They can also be used by the Deputy Ombudsman as a basis for informing the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
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