Photo: Tatsiana Zharnosek, Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
So far, the government does not confirm the intention to carry out systematic and comprehensive reforms of legislation in this area.
As Siarhei Drazdouski highlighted at the presentation of the study "Modernization of the legislation in the field of disability policy within the framework of the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities", conducted by the project the BISS "Reforum", "national plan today is viewed from the position of the current Belarusian system rather than the Convention."
Belarus acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on September 28, 2015. The Government was given six months to prepare for the ratification of the Convention.
In January, the government will present the national plan of the implementation of the norms of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. "In our opinion, national plan is the turning point, which makes it possible to have a number of structural reforms that would change the attitude of our society towards disability", - says Siarhei Drazdouski.
However the coordinator of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that there is no full-fledged dialogue with the authorities yet.
Anastasia Kanavalava, the lawyer of the Belarusian association of assistance to children and young people with disabilities, notes that the draft of the national plan "lacks definite measures, it’s not mentioned what statuary regulations should be abolished or amended." "The realization of the right to work is unclear. That, again, requires a serious legislative reform."
Among the key issues of the implementation of the Convention Siarhei Drazdouski names the country's lack of institute of prohibition of discrimination and the medical approach to disability. "For example, the use of compulsory treatment," - explains Siarhei Drazdouski.
According to the expert, officials often respond to the proposals of public organizations: "We had these regulations for years, that’s what we practice." "If inequality is a legal norm, it must be changed unconditionally. There is no place for discussion. It just needs to be fixed - technically and legally ", - argued Siarhei Drazdouski.
Drazdouski showed that today about 20 proposals public organizations were included in the national plan, "but it is not enough to be sure that it will be of good quality".
Today Belarus is home to 554,423 persons with disabilities, which makes 5.8% of the country's population.
The authors of the actual study are legal experts in the field of disability of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Tatsiana Anushkevich, Siarhei Drazdouski and Volha Likhachova. They point out that currently there is no definition of discrimination on grounds of disability; legal mechanism of protection against discrimination, including discrimination at the workplace; case law; the definition of universal design concepts.
Such concepts as living independently and inclusion in the community are not fully realized today.
Belarus does not provide any measures for preventing violence against persons with disabilities.
The authors of the study stress the need for "considerable changes in legislation". The priorities include the reorientation of the legislation to non-discrimination policy, which gives persons with disabilities equal rights and opportunities; personalization and changing the state monopoly of social protection to an independent choice of a person; rationalizing measures and methods of public and state support; empowering non-governmental participants of the disability policy to reach real equality in dialogue and interaction.