Duma rejects Disability Rights Commissioner

Deputies reject bill on the creation of a Disability Rights Commissioner


The State Duma has concluded that the mandate of a proposed new ombudsman would overlap with the remit of existing institutions.

The Duma rejected the bill on the creation of the post of Disability Rights Commissioner. In its conclusion, the Committee on Labour, Social Policy and Veterans’ Affairs emphasised that disability rights are currently covered by a number of advisory bodies, commissions and designated officials, in particular the Human Rights Commissioner and the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights. The committee found that the introduction of a Disability Rights Commissioner and a regional ombudsman defending the rights of the disabled would duplicate the responsibilities of existing institutions.

Aleksandr Ryavkin, President of the White Cane charitable foundation, has stated that the disappointing results of the state programme ‘Accessible Environment’ highlight the need for a dedicated Disability Rights Commissioner. “Suppose this post is introduced in five, ten years – when everything starts to work as it should, the relevant ministry and civil society can keep the situation under control. But evidently we have reached an important and difficult transitional step: significant resources are being poured into a programme which is not very effective. Personal accountability is needed”, he believes.

The draft on the introduction of the Disability Rights Commissioner role was developed by the vice-speaker of the Duma Igor Lebedev, the deputy head of the LDPR faction Yaroslav Nilov and deputy Andrei Svintsov in 2014. The legislation’s authors believe that the creation of a new ombudsman could improve the lives of those with disabilities and the work of social organisations defending their rights.

In 2013 the idea of creating a Disability Rights Commissioner was backed by Vladimir Putin, provoking mixed reactions from NGOs working with people with disabilities: experts emphasised that any new institution should not duplicate the work of existing organisations.

Since assuming office, the Human Rights Commissioner Ella Pamfilova has consistently advocated against ‘inflation’ of the Commissioner concept, criticising proposals for the creation of ombudsmen defending the rights of several different groups. She deems this a ‘flaw of the governance system’, instead of which the status and abilities of existing institutions should be strengthened.

Author: Georgii Ivanushkin


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