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Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Another Discriminatory Decision of the City of Kraljevo

The Commissioner for Protection of Equality, acting upon a complaint lodged by Praxis, established a discriminatory action of the Assembly of the City of Kraljevo because by its Decision on Helping Children with Disabilities, it deprived the pupils from internally displaced families residing in the City of Kraljevo of the right to the compensation of the costs of transport, dormitory accommodation and meals, and part of the costs covered by the City in case of necessity for a person accompanying the person with disability.   More specifically, the Assembly of the City of Kraljevo ruled out the possibility for internally displaced pupils with disabilities residing in the City of Kraljevo to exercise the said rights under equal conditions by determining permanent residence as one of the criteria for exercising these rights.  Due to this condition, the Decision violated Articles 7 and 22 of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination, which was established in the complaint procedure by the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality who then recommended to the Assembly of the City of Kraljevo to take all measures within its purview to make the decision in question applicable to the pupils who were internally displaced persons with temporary residence registered in the territory of the City of Kraljevo.

It is very important to emphasise, as stated in the Commissioner’s Decision, that status must not be a limiting factor for the exercise of any rights enjoyed by other citizens, and that special attention should be paid to internally displaced children with disabilities who may be exposed to multiple discrimination based on several personal characteristics.

In addition to this, the Commissioner informed the Assembly of the City of Kraljevo that the language and terms were means of combating discrimination, and that it was necessary to recognise that the terminology used when talking about people with disabilities changed over time depending on approach. More specifically, the name of the Decision in question included some outdated terminology that was not in the spirit of anti-discrimination policy, such as "children with special needs", while some provisions of the Decision included terms such as "invalid", "blind and deaf persons", etc. The needs of all people are the same and only the ways of fulfilling them can differ, with disability being only one of the characteristics of a person. It is therefore unacceptable and insulting to focus on someone’s disability.

Before the Commissioner issued an opinion, the City of Kraljevo had not responded to the allegations of the complaint. This is one of a dozen of discriminatory decisions due to which Praxis lodged complaints against the Assembly of the City of Kraljevo. As usual, Praxis will continue to monitor further actions of the competent authorities in terms of aligning the disputed decisions with anti-discrimination legislation.

This is one more opportunity to address public authorities, stressing the importance of respecting human rights, adhering to the principles of non-discrimination and taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable citizens in the policy-making process.

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