HRW: Essential progress for folks with disabilities in Armenia

May 12, 2021 – 3:06 p.m.

PanARMENIAN.Net – Human Rights Watch identified “important advances” made for people with disabilities in Armenia after the country’s parliament passed the Disability Rights Act.

The long awaited reform will potentially change the lives of the 200,000 or so people with disabilities in Armenia by protecting them from discrimination and creating opportunities for a more inclusive society. This is also a step towards implementing the state’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Armenia ratified in 2010.

The recent war with neighboring Azerbaijan left thousands of people with physical and psychosocial disabilities and prompted authorities to recognize the urgency of the problem. The government has initiated programs to support the mental health of war victims and the general public, and created centers for independent living for people who have acquired disabilities as a result of the conflict.

“However, a more comprehensive, rights-based approach was needed to remove barriers and discriminatory measures. The new law dispenses with a narrow medical definition of disability and defines disability as the result of the interaction between environmental and societal barriers and the state of health of a person who it hinders their full realization of rights, “Human Rights Watch said.

“The law contains guarantees of accessibility, independent living, access to justice, and reasonable accommodation that enable a person to enjoy their rights on an equal footing with others. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and addresses the refusal to afford reasonable accommodation. The law allows It also allows non-governmental organizations to bring anti-discrimination lawsuits on behalf of people with disabilities who, because of their health or other circumstances, cannot represent themselves in person in court.

The law’s passage was made possible through decades of sustained advocacy from Armenian national disability rights organizations and activists. The challenge now will be to implement the law.

“Legislators have not included a provision to create a specific accessibility regulator. Therefore, it is up to the Armenian authorities to ensure that the standards of the law become a reality. They should incorporate these standards into existing policies and laws and carry out further reforms that support the Ensure the legal capacity of people with disabilities. In doing so, they should consult and actively involve people with disabilities in order to ensure that no one with a disability remains marginalized, isolated and invisible, “added HRW.

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