To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, at the sitting held on 30 November the members of the Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction spoke on the topic “Work ability as a prerequisite for the inclusion and equality of persons with disabilities”.
Committee Chairperson Milanka Jevtovic Vukojicic greeted the guests saying that 10-15% of the world population suffers from some form of disability to a higher or lesser degree, while Serbia, according to the lasts data, is home to 800,000 persons with disabilities. That is why 3 December was established as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities aiming to raise public awareness on the enormity of the problems persons with disabilities face, improve their quality of life and include them in all social activities, the Committee Chairperson said.
Nenad Eric, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs Activity, briefed the Committee members on the Ministry’s activities on the empowerment of PWDs. Among other things, he said that the Ministry had organized an exhibition of handicrafts, paintings and art created by persons with disabilities at t this year’s book fair, under the motto “Equals”. The Ministry also organized a series of workshops and sporting events for persons with disabilities, while a great many municipalities received sound and light signals to facilitate the independent movement of visually impaired or partially sighted persons.
Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic also addressed the Committee members saying that the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 143 December 2006, which came into force on 3 May 2008. Serbia is one of the 117 countries to have ratified the Convention intended to improve, protect and guarantee equal human rights and fundamental; liberties of persons with disabilities.
Jankovic opined that the implementation of Article 12 of the Convention - equal recognition before the law, is vital. This article ensures the equal right of persons with disabilities to own or inherit property and to control their own financial affairs. Jankovic added that it is essential to provide guidelines for the application of the provisions of Article 12 to specify the obligations of the signatories and improve the decision-making model for persons completely lacking work ability.
Sasa Gajin, professor at the Union University Faculty of Law, spoke about the importance of protecting persons with disabilities against discrimination, adding that we should work toward abandoning the system of complete loss of work ability in favour of partial work ability.
Speaking about the loss of work ability in persons with disabilities, the officials came to the conclusion that it is essential to employ additional measures to make sure persons with a complete loss of work ability are given the chance to make decisions independently and not completely excluded from social activities. The amendments and modifications to the Law on Extra-Judicial Proceedings gave the court the authority to re-assess the work ability of the abovementioned persons every three years.
Laza Stefanovic, of the Mental Disability Rights Initiative of Serbia, Svetlana Vlahovic, Vice-President of the National Organization of Persons with Disabilities, Ivanka Jovanovic, of the National Organization of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia, and MPs Ljupka MIhajlovska and Branimir Rancic, took part in the constructive debate.
The sitting was chaired by Committee Chairperson Milanka Jevtovic Vukojicic and attended by the following Committee members and deputy members: Branimir Rancic, Vlado Babic, Dragan Savkic, Josip Broz, Vesna Nikolic Vukajlovic, Tomislav Zigmanov, Slavica Zivkovic, Milena Corilic, Marija Janjusevic and Gorica Gajic.