Message of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities - AJBH-EN
Message of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
In a society, communication and the – proper – understanding of one another constitute an entitlement per se, and the precondition to exercising other rights, stresses the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights. According to Dr. Ákos Kozma, lending an understanding ear to the considerations of people living with disabilities, and ensuring accessible communicative spaces for them in their private and public life is a fundamental task. At the same time, the Ombudsman points out that the importance of this duty is further reinforced by the powerful challenges of the current pandemic.
The UN declared 3 December the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 1992. There are nearly 650 million people around the world who live with disabilities, while in Hungary almost 600 thousand people live with disabilities or a lasting harm to their health. For persons with disabilities around the world, it was a huge leap forward when on 13 December 2006, the UN approved the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – an agreement hammered out as a result of nearly ten years of work – which Hungary was among the first to join, thus it came into force already on 3 May 2008 in our country. The CRPD, and the human rights based change of approach it has brought about are milestones in the history of disability matters in Hungary: the principle of equal treatment, the promotion of independent living, and the issue of reasonable accommodation all fall into this category.
In Hungary, Ombudsmen at all times have the obligation to monitor the issues of persons with disabilities, conduct both individual and comprehensive inquiries, pay regular visits to care institutions for the disabled, assess the signals of civil society organizations, as well as to initiate legislative actions and the application of the law necessary to deepen the protection of fundamental rights. Nevertheless, it is not only through inquiring into complaints and signals relating specifically to disability issues that Ombudsmen are confronted with the major problems of this vulnerable social group, but also in the course of examining a number of other areas such as education, healthcare and child protection. One such specific issue is that children living with disabilities and their families often run into obstacles in terms of attitudes and resources when accessing services.
In 2021, Dr. Ákos Kozma conducted comprehensive inquiries into the operation of several institutions that look after people with disabilities. He formulated both specific and systemic recommendations, and he also monitored the measures taken in relation to the epidemiological situation and their impact in practice during a series of visits across Hungary.
As it is regularly pointed out by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights in his reports and talks, in order to recognize the real needs of people living with disabilities and to create the relevant legislation and practice based on the enforcement of the right to human dignity, it is quintessential to acquaint ourselves with their situation both as individuals and as a community. In the Ombudsman's view, the creation of national, regional and global forums of cooperation is also a key condition to maintaining a continuous human rights dialogue.
On the occasion of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Dr. Ákos Kozma recalls that lending an understanding ear to the considerations of people living with disabilities, and ensuring accessible communicative spaces for them in their private and public life is a fundamental task. At the same time, he also emphasizes that the powerful challenges of the current pandemic further reinforce the importance of this duty.