On 1 January 2018, the Public Defender of Rights became a monitoring body under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Czech Republic thus complied with its obligation assumed in 2009 by ratifying the Convention, i.e. to establish an independent body to systemati cally watch the rights of people with disabilities.
This report summarises the first year of activities in this capacity. The report informs about the topics they dealt with, first findings and also the awareness-raising activities inextricably associated with the role of monitoring bodies.
The Defender already dealt with multiple problems and aspects of the life of people with disabilities within the former scope of her powers. The topics she inquired into included disability pensions, allowance for care, barrier-free buildings and other issues related to public administration, as well as protection of people from discrimination and prevention of ill-treatment in facilities where people with disabilities’ freedom is restricted in some way. However, monitoring under the Convention on
the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entails systematic identification of problems faced by people with disabilities and looking for comprehensive solutions.
It would not be possible to identify the most serious systemic problems without active participation of people with disabilities themselves. Therefore, the Defender not only started co-operating with a number of non-profit organisations dealing with the rights of people with disabilities, but also appointed her advisory body. The advisory body’s members are people with disabilities and people who have dealt with the rights of people with disabilities in the long term. The primary responsibility of the body is to point out “facts on the ground” and information that can be used in conducting surveys, formulating recommendations, commenting on legal regulations and engaging with the public as part of awareness-raising activities.
Judging from the very first findings and preliminary results of surveys, it is clear that the rights of people with disabilities have long been neglected by society. There is a lack of services and supporting measures to help people with disabilities to fully integrate into society. More importantly, the society’s attitudes to people with disabilities must change to eliminate certain stereotypes and prejudices.