Within the new Law on the Protector of Citizens, drafted by the institutions’ experts which should soon enter the parliamentary procedure, we have envisaged that the Protector of Citizens would operate as the National Independent Mechanism for Monitoring the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Protector of Citizens has stated.
In his keynote address during the awards ceremony for cities, municipalities and city municipalities that have contributed the most to the development of all forms of accessibility in 2019, Mr. Pašalić pointed out that people with disabilities faced obstacles on a daily basis when moving, using public transport and exercising the right to information and communication.
Mr. Pašalić emphasized that in his work he had noticed that the facilities and institutions that citizens need to access in order to exercise their fundamental rights were often inaccessible, including social welfare centers, health centers, branches and offices of the RF PIO, municipal/city administration and added that he kept pointing that out to the competent authorities.
The Protector of Citizens has been organizing the award ceremony for contribution to the development of all forms of accessibility for the fourth year in row in partnership with the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of Serbia and the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities.
The award for the development of accessibility in 2019 went to Vračar, a City Municipality in Belgrade, as well as Niš and Svilajnac city administrations, acknowledgements for the development of accessibility went to Kikinda, Žabari and Bela Palanka, and certificates of appreciation went to Sremska Mitrovica, Leskovac, Sombor and Vrnjačka Banja.
Mr. Pašalić noted that the trend of building new facilities and reconstructing old ones without adequate application of all accessibility standards is of particular concern, as it violated the fundamental principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the provisions of the Planning and Building Act and other regulations which establish the obligation to observe accessibility standards.
Designing facilities and services, while taking into account accessibility standards, makes these facilities and services safer and more comfortable to use, not only for persons with disabilities but also for all the citizens of this country. The society we strive for is one in which each person will be enabled to live independently and participate in all aspects of life on an equal footing with others, and accessibility is a precondition for full participation of all persons in the society, Mr. Pašalić has said.
The representative of Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of Serbia, Ms. Dragana Jovanović Arias, pointed out that Serbia had sound legislation for ensuring accessibility, but that practical implementation should be better, noting that such accessibility development projects could be a good example for the national level.
The representative of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, Mr. Đorđe Staničić, stated that it was necessary for several local self-governments to get involved in such projects as they posed examples of how steps were being taken to improve the position of people with disabilities.
You can watch the award ceremony at the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBI5Lz38d50