The Commission on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will delegate more of its services to the Sapport Agency in order to focus more on abuse investigations.
CRPD Commissioner Samantha Pace Gasan said a disability task force had enabled the disability rights commissioner to address the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions.
In Malta, 19,705 people with a disability were registered with the Commission in December 2020.
The Task Force carried out research on the impact of the pandemic on people with disabilities in collaboration with the University of Malta. The pandemic had forced the cessation of medical assessments for “blue” disability badges and temporary badges were issued instead, with the number of applications for the badges falling dramatically.
The CRPD’s Committee of Inquiry recorded an overall decrease of 24% in requests for inquiries into discrimination, but an increase of 75% in requests related to work.
Around 70% of the applications to the conformity committee, which is responsible for monitoring and checking accessibility within buildings, were rejected.
The CRPD’s Enforcement Division is now growing after collecting more than 2,000 expired blue badges in an anti-abuse exercise.
Pace Gasan appealed to more private companies to apply for Disability Equality Training to ensure they meet their commitments related to accessibility, inclusion and rights of people with disabilities.
Minister for Inclusion and Social Welfare, Julia Farrugia Portelli, stressed the importance of the CRPD and its staff during the pandemic, thanks to which “the well-being and quality of life of disabled people and their families have improved”.
Farrugia Portelli said changes to the criminal code will strengthen the CRPD and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
An awareness-raising campaign is to be launched shortly to address the taboos that people with disabilities are confronted with.
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