Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Encourage Persons with Disabilities to Engage More in Politics
The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Maja Gojkovic took part in the National Conference on Strengthening Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Serbia, organized by the Centre for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia and the National Organization of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia.
The National Assembly Speaker said that, in addition to the many physical obstacles, persons with disabilities also come up against stereotypes and prejudice in their daily lives.
“That is why I would like to stress that the potentials of persons with disabilities are truly important for the development and growth of our society. We should view them as citizens who can greatly contribute and help us build a society of tolerance, solidarity and equality”, said Gojkovic.
Gojkovic said that the National Assembly strives to include into the legislative framework everything that would enable persons with disabilities in Serbia to have a better life and more independence.
According to her, besides the umbrella anti-discrimination law and the Law on Prevention of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, the Serbian Assembly had also passed the Law on Social Protection, Law on Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities, as well as two laws crucial for improved standards of living and elimination of obstacles – the Law on Use of Sign Language and the Law on Use of Guide Dogs.
The National Assembly also passed amendments to the Law on Prevention of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities to enable people unable to sign their name due to bodily or sensory disability to exercise their voting right.
Gojkovic said that dedication to the political empowerment of persons with disabilities in Serbia had resulted in the Republic Electoral Commission and the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media instructions to enable visually impaired and/or blind people to use guide dogs at the polling stations, and, wherever possible, that those polling stations be located on the ground floor to facilitate news, while the news services are obliged to broadcast the pre-election programme accompanied by translation into sign language for persons with impaired hearing.
The National Assembly Speaker also added that one of the Parliament’s special achievements is the establishment of the Working Group for Political Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.
In December 2015, the Serbian Assembly had supported the realization of the project of the Centre for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia and the National Organization of Persons with Disabilities of Serbia, realized with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Project leader Gordana Rajkov also highlighted the importance of the Working Group for Political Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, stressing that apart from the UK and Scottish parliaments, Serbia’s is the only national parliament in Europe to have a body of this kind, and that only the European Parliament has such a group.
Vladimir Dimitrijevic, Chairperson of the Republic Electoral Commission which had for the first time set up a Working Group for the improvement of position of persons with disabilities, as well as Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government Ana Brnabic, Commissioner for Protection of Equality Brankica Jankovic, and US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott also spoke at the Conference.