16 Jan The Law “On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” has come into force
Photo: Gazeta. uz
The Law “On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” signed by the President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on 15 October 2020 has come into force today. The Law defines the basic principles of ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities in the Republic of Uzbekistan:
- respect for the dignity of persons with disabilities, their independence, freedom of choice;
- non-discrimination on the basis of disability;
- equality of opportunity in the exercise of human rights and freedoms;
- respect for the developing abilities of children with disabilities and their rights to maintain their identity;
- accessibility of facilities and services;
- involvement of persons with disabilities in the life of society and the state.
According to the Law, current disability assessment by Medical and Labour Expert Commissions will be reformed. The medical examination of disabled people will be carried out free of charge no later than 10 days from the date of accepting medical documents.
A number of issues related to social protection of disabled people and the guarantee of their rights are fixed in the Law. Other improvements in the Law include:
- Organizations create conditions for ensuring access of persons with disabilities to sports facilities, recreation facilities, as well as tourist facilities, including on a free of charge basis;
- The state takes measures to provide qualified medical care to persons with disabilities, which is carried out within the framework of the program of state guarantees for the provision of free medical care to citizens;
- The state guarantees the receipt of free general secondary, extracurricular, secondary specialized and vocational education for children with disabilities;
- For persons with disabilities, an additional 2% quota of admission to higher educational institutions is allocated on the basis of a state grant out of the total number of admission of applicants;
- Persons with disabilities have the right to free sanatorium treatment, as well as the provision of medicines, medical products for the care of persons with disabilities and specialized medical food products for children with disabilities;
- Persons with disabilities have the right to receive social housing on preferential terms;
- Hotel owners are obliged to equip at least one room from their total room stock, accessible for persons with disabilities who use a wheelchair, as well as to ensure the installation of displays and sound devices for announcements that meet the needs of persons with hearing and visual impairments;
- Local government bodies have the right to establish additional social guarantees for persons with disabilities at the local budget expense.
Last year together with the lawyer Oybek Isakov, the chairperson of the Association of Disabled People of Uzbekistan (an umbrella cross-disability association uniting 27 organisations of/for disabled people across the country), we wrote an article at Gazeta.uz “We Now Have Rights But How to Implement Them?”. Despite the new law’s title, the definition of disability is still purely medical and is not compatible with the UNCRPD.
Moreover, it remains unclear how disabled people with low legal awareness could implement their rights if Uzbekistan’s whole justice system is not accessible for them? Therefore, I am a bit sceptical that this new Law will really work in practice and there is a risk that it will only remain on paper and repeat the fate of the previous Law “On Social Protection of Disabled People in the Republic of Uzbekistan.”