Margarit Yesayan, Member of the NA Republican Party of Armenia faction, Member of the NA Standing Committee on Health and Social Affairs, Zara Batoyan, Member of the Yerevan Council Yelq faction, Chairman of “Disability” Info NGO, participated in the discussion.
Margarit Yesayan is convinced that there are many issues and concerns in the field of the protection of the rights of the disabled.
“No one can say that as a state and society we do not have things to do in this field and we fulfill our commitments to citizens. During these years, we have not been able to create not only external conditions for persons with disabilities, but also have not been able to develop relevant legislative initiatives to solve all the problems that today the disabled citizens of the Republic of Armenia face. This is definitely a minus score for all past and present authorities,” Yesayan said.
Law on Social Security of Persons with Disabilities has been adopted in Armenia in 1993. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has drafted a new law “On the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Social Inclusion”, which was also discussed in the Standing Committee on Health and Social Affairs of the National Assembly.
Adoption of this law also comes from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Margarit Yesayan underlined that one of the promises of the RPA election program was the adoption of this law, and now the draft law exists.
“It was discussed at the party and in the NA Standing Committee on Social Affairs and Health Care. Meetings and discussions were also held with the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs during which we thoroughly referred to every point of the project. The draft law was also discussed with a number of NGOs dealing with issues of disability, and after so many discussions, I stress that after a long break, at least we can adopt a law that will operate fully, without any additional obstacles,” Yesayan said.
The RPA member also mentioned that people with disabilities have problems with public transport and free movement.
“As long as there are mini buses in Yerevan, we will have problems there. We have to adjust our vehicles to all citizens,” Yesayan said.
According to Zaruhi Batoyan, the new draft law will provide for equal rights of persons with disabilities.
“It is based on the protection of human rights, where a person with disabilities is not a person who needs protection and care, but a citizen who has the same rights as other citizens. The draft is so important that it will stimulate the state to take action,” Batoyan said.
She also highlighted the importance of introduction of the draft law in non-legal terms, accessible to the citizens, as well as access to persons with hearing and sight problems.
During the discussion, the speakers also touched upon the provision of the Pre-Election Program of “Yelq”, which proposes to establish an Agency for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which will ensure the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and will impose administrative sanctions on violations of the law.
Zaruhi Batoyan says that she has personally proposed to create a special department in Yerevan Municipality to deal with issues of people with disabilities but the proposal is rejected justifying that they are dealing with the protection of the rights of all citizens.
“Yes, the ultimate goal should be that every citizen has the same opportunities and rights. But today there is another situation in Armenia, and even in many developed countries there are such departments. Today, there is a separate department in the municipality dealing with women and family issues. So what? Aren’t the woman or the child humans,” Batoyan added.
Margarit Yesayan opposed this proposal, stating that it contradicts the idea that members of society should not be divided into groups, people with disabilities and those without disabilities.
“With this provision, we are sorting this group of people. In addition, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security has an appropriate department dealing with these issues. Regional administrations also have separate social departments,” Yesayan emphasized.
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Lilit Arakelyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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