Round table "Harmonization of regulations with the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities".

Limited progress has been achieved in the field of exercising the rights of PWDs (Persons with Disabilities). Drafting of the new Law on Prohibition of Discrimination is underway, which should be fully harmonized with the legal acquis of the European Union, and the insufficient implementation of the adopted legal standards means that persons with disabilities (PWDs) continue to face numerous obstacles, which prevent many and effective participation in community life. This was announced at the round table "Harmonization of Regulations with the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities", which was organized by the NGO Children of Montenegro.

The round table is part of the project "Cooperation to a better position of LSI in Tuzi" implemented by the NGO "Children of Montenegro" in cooperation with the Municipality of Tuzi, and supported by the Center for Civic Education (CEO) within the program of CSOs in Montenegro - from basic services to of policy-making - M'BASE, which is financed from the funds of the European Union.

Deputy Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, Nerma Dobardžić, said that the drafting of the new Law on Prohibition of Discrimination is underway.

"The Law on Prohibition of Discrimination needs to be improved and fully harmonized with the legal acquis of the European Union, because the Law does not make a clear distinction between areas, areas, forms and grounds of discrimination. The penal policy is not harmonized with other relevant laws. The provision on the burden of proof is not fully aligned with the directives of the European Union that regulate the prohibition of discrimination. Certain forms are not recognized as more severe forms of discrimination," said Dobardžić.

She indicated that limited progress has been made in the field of exercising LSI rights.
"Visibility has increased, the normative framework that regulates the rights of LSI has been improved. However, insufficiently good implementation of the adopted legal standards means that LSIs continue to face numerous obstacles that prevent them from full and effective participation in the life of the community," said Dobardžić. He believes that the main reason for such a state of affairs is that the medical and functional approach to disability is still largely present, which means that these models look at disability exclusively from the aspect of the damage a person has. "They are incompatible with the human rights-based approach to disability promoted by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Inaccessibility limits freedom of movement to the detriment of LSI. An additional reason for concern lies in the fact that accessibility is a prerequisite for exercising other rights in almost all areas of social life," said Dobardžić.
She believes that the state is obliged to enable all LSIs to exercise their right to education and added that there are visible efforts to improve inclusive education.
"In the field of work and employment, a special problem is the lack of awareness of employers about the obligation to employ LSI in case that person has the same or better qualifications, professional or working abilities than a person without disability, as well as the obligation to hire an appropriate number of LSI for the appropriate number of employees. And access to justice is of crucial importance both for the exercise of rights and freedoms and for the formation of an individual's attitude about the character and state of the state and society," explained Dobardžić.
The coordinator of the project, Sabra Decević, said that as part of the project, an analysis of the need for support services for LSI in the Municipality of Tuzi was made.

"Focus groups were organized with LSI, parents of children and youth with developmental disabilities, because we saw that the NGO "Children of Montenegro" is the only organization in Tuzi that provides free services and support services for children and youth with developmental disabilities," she said. is Decević.

She pointed out that the support needs to be extended and increased, because the number of children and youth with developmental disabilities has increased. "We need to have more local support, because we did not receive funds from the Ministry of Finance to provide support services. It would be a shame if those services were to close, and with the agreement we continued to provide the service even though we have no financial capacity," said Decević.

During the project, as she said, a two-day training was held for representatives of institutions and civil society organizations with the aim of strengthening capacities for monitoring and intersectoral cooperation.

"Through the local action plan, we saw that not enough is being done to promote the rights of LSI, especially in the Municipality of Tuza. Through the research we conducted last year, which was financially supported by the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, citizens responded that they believe that the rights of LSI are not sufficiently respected, that not enough activities are organized for them, that their employment continues to be problematic, as well as the adjustment of educational goals and inclusive education for children and youth with developmental disabilities," stated Decević.

One of the results of the project, as she said, is the organization of ten workshops for parents of children and young people with developmental disabilities, because that support service in Tuzi has not been developed at all.

The Director General of the Directorate for the Protection and Equality of Persons with Disabilities in the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, Aleksandra Popović, said that through the improvement of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, a provision related to reasonable accommodation will be defined, and in this way it will be harmonized with The UN Convention on the Rights of LSI.

"2023 year, the state of Montenegro must submit a report on the implementation of this Convention to the UN Committee. It is important that the local community implements all regulations at the local level, at the level of local self-governments, so that everyone can enjoy the same rights without discrimination," said Popović.

She stated that the Council for the Rights of LSI was formed at the level of the Government, and some municipalities also have a Council for the Rights of LSI.

"When it comes to employment, the Law on Professional Rehabilitation prescribes a quota system of employment, and this is not only good for LSI, but also for society, because through this employment of LSI, you in the local self-government institution provide, in addition to the salary subsidy in the amount of 75 percent, and adjustment of workplace and assistant. It is additional support to make that space accessible at the expense of the state. LSIs are very good at performing certain jobs and I think that should be used," explained Popović.

In the previous five years, the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights distributed around one and a half million euros for financing projects to non-governmental organizations.

"It is very important to report on LSI in accordance with the human rights model. When it comes to local self-government, it is very important that in our announcements we take care of the application of a model based on human rights. This means that there is no sense of pity, but we must have a completely equal approach based on human rights, because that is what the Convention prescribes," said Popović.

He believes that it is necessary for everyone to work more intensively together in order to contribute to improving the position of LSI without discrimination.

The Secretary of the Secretariat for Local Self-Government, Marina Ujkaj, said that the Municipality of Tuzi, in cooperation with the NGO Children of Montenegro, for the first time adopted the Local Action Plan for the protection of LSI. "That local action plan was adopted for a period of three years and the goal is to improve the status of the LSI and for the Municipality of Tuza to really contribute and make the LSI to be included in the system. We have conducted several activities, and it is certain that we will conduct many more. We conduct an analysis of what primary schools need for work, didactic elements, maybe projectors. And based on that analysis, we will help the schools," Ujkaj said.

The municipality of Tuzi, as she said, employed a person with a disability and envisaged the possibility of hiring at least one more LSI, and public institutions already have LSI among their employees. "We hope that in the future we will succeed in letting employers know that they should hire LSIs, because these people, perhaps, can be better than all of us." The subsidies that we can use as employers should further motivate us to employ LSI", said Ujkaj.

The municipality of Tuzi, as she pointed out, meets and is always ready to help people with disabilities as much as possible.