Institutional bariers in the access to rights and justice for deaf and hard of hearing persons 25 September 2013
The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia monitored yesterday’s protest of citizens with impaired hearing (deaf and hard of hearing persons), which took place in front of the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy and in front of the National Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons.
Based on the demands of this category of citizens, the Committee noted the problems that they face with during the social inclusion and with the institutions.
Namely, their revolt is due to the non-transparent work of the National Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons, their management and the manner in which they are provided access to rights as members of the Association, although in accordance with the activities, legal assistance and counseling for the persons in question is planned. Therefore, the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy asked the President of the National Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons to give his resignation and the work of the association to be revised.
One of the more important reasons for their revolt is the number of interpreters registered in the register updated by the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy, i.e. for around 6000 deaf and hard of hearing persons there are 12 interpreters on the whole territory of the Republic of Macedonia.
The work of the National Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons in Macedonia is regulated with the Law on the Use of Sign Language based on which the cooperation with the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy is established, especially in the segment for training of interpreters and awarding them with a work certificate. Taking into consideration that the Ministry for Labor and Social Policy is responsible for monitoring the implementation of this law, it is obliged to monitor the work of the Association during the implementation of the activities in the segment concerning providing every kind of assistance for the persons with impaired hearing, including the procedure for acquiring a certificate as an interpreter.
The Committee expresses its concern regarding the access to rights and justice for this category of citizens especially because the Republic of Macedonia with the ratification of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is obliged to provide conditions for full access and realization of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. It is especially important that the citizens are informed about their rights according to the domestic and international legislation and that the institutions respect those standards and rules.
The Helsinki Committee welcomes the revision of the National Strategy for Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities 2010-2018 and at the same time reminds of its systematic practical implementation in order not to allow this category of citizens to remain invisible, locked in their homes without the possibility to socialize and interact in the social environment.
For that purpose, the Committee will provide free legal counseling for this category of citizens and it will inform them about their rights and obligations, as well as about establishing communication with the state institutions according to the national legislation.