war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

XV. Violations of rights of disabled persons



1. General observations

According to official statistics, as of January 1, 2013, there were 2,788,226 disabled persons in Ukraine[2]. In the absence of official statistics on the distribution of persons by nosologies, the number of adult and underage persons with disabilities in the general population of Ukraine almost doubled from 1.6 million in 1991 to 2.8 million in 2014 and reached 6.1%. Out of 168,000 of disabled children (2.1% of all children), there are 74,000 girls and 94,000 boys.

The poor quality and inaccessibility of proper medical care, population aging, environmental pollution, increasing number of congenital disorders and chronic diseases, occupational diseases and industrial accidents, traffic accidents, military conflicts, nutrition, abuse of smoking, alcohol and drugs, psychotropic substances make an incomplete list of factors affecting the rising number of people who will have a disability and will need protection of rights. Due to the military conflict in eastern Ukraine as of November 6, 2014, the Ministry of Healthcare provided preliminary information on primary disability among the participants of the antiterrorist operation. Therefore, 578 persons were examined and 185 were registered as disabled persons. The latter will need additional legal assistance and protection of rights.

Following the ratification by Ukraine of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities[3], the state undertook to support, protect and exercise rights of persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, the state reports “On the situation of persons with disabilities” (2013), “Unimpeded access of persons with disabilities to the objects of social, transport infrastructure and communications” (2012), “Education of persons with disabilities in Ukraine” (2012) do not fully show the real situation with observance of human rights of disabled persons after the ratification of this international agreement. Therefore, the NGOs of disabled persons continue to monitor the situation and influence on decision-making concerning the rights of disabled persons in various spheres of life: education, health service, rehabilitation, employment, observance of voting rights, etc.

The government goes on to fail to include the disabled persons in policy-making in a given branch of activities. Thus, the report of the state on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Ukraine[4], despite observations of the Committee, does not contain information about this group of women. In view of this situation, the National Assembly of the Disabled Persons of Ukraine has undertaken the preparation of Alternative report on the implementation of government commitments concerning women and girls with disabilities. Also in fall 2015, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will hear the Alternative report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was prepared and sent by NGOs in 2012.

Having signed the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union and having made for the European integration, our state has assumed certain commitments concerning implementation of standards of human rights of disabled persons in the domain of health service, education, employment, services, etc.

But, according to NGOs of disabled persons, today there remain major barriers to exercise the rights of disabled persons: inadequate legislation and its declarative nature, lack of understanding of approaches to disability issues; negative public attitudes and existing stereotypes; lack of access to quality services and problem with their provision; lack of unimpeded environment and transport; inadequate information and communication; lack of consultation and inclusion in public life; lack of statistics, and so on.

One example of lack of understanding of disability issues and discrimination is the Bill registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of 11.12.2014 “On amending certain laws of Ukraine intended to improve the social protection of disabled people in Ukraine” (reg. No. 1400) in which the section of definition of disability “as a measure of loss of opportunities for social integration” shows the author’s ignorance of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International classification of functioning, disability and health (WHO). The author also suggests amending Article 18-1 of the Law and organizing specialized public registration of employable disabled persons at the State employment center.

According to Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities “The member states recognize the right of disabled persons to work on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain his living by work freely chosen by the disabled person himself or which he freely accepted in a context where the labor market and working environment are open, inclusive and accessible to disabled persons.” The author’s amendment to this article of the Bill, according to NGOs, constitutes discrimination on grounds of disability in relation to employment issues. An employee with a disability is primarily a specialist with appropriate education, knowledge and experience, which needs a special working environment. We cannot allow creating special and even more public lists of disabled persons able to work which are open to employers. Today in Ukraine, a disabled person is entitled to get an unemployment status and related social benefits on the level with other citizens of Ukraine.

Thus, despite some positive developments, the systematic violations in Ukraine of the rights of disabled persons continue: the existing legislative provisions on non-discrimination on the basis of disability in practice do not work; legislation is declarative; the existing standards on accessibility need to be improved (architectural, transportation, and information accessibility); the disability factors are not always taken into account in making policy and government programs at national and regional levels; there is no reliable statistics and information.

2. “Universal design” and “accessibility” in Ukraine

The “Universal design” and “accessibility” as key terms in the ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities mean, respectively, “the design of products, environments, programs and services intended to make them as usable by all people without the need for adaptation or specialized design” and an equal access to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services that are open or rendered to the public both in urban and rural areas[5].

So we see that in this case not only disabled persons are at issue, but 18,100,000 so-called limited mobility citizens as well: pregnant mothers (1.5% of the population), parents with baby buggies (1.5%), most of old age pensioners (14 million in total), more than 2 million pre-school children, and people with temporary disabilities (1.5%). In addition, 35% of people aged 60–70 have some sort of disability due to age-related changes, and after 80 years every second person[6].

In Ukraine, these principles have not been generally adopted yet due to the large number of executors[7] (over 20) and slow implementation of the “National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” with 2020 deadline[8]. However, among the realized projects there are airport “Boryspil “(Terminal D), Taras Shevchenko Museum in Kyiv. The Platinum Bank and Oshchadbank are trying to make their offices accessible to all, which is an example for other commercial institutions[9]. December 31, 2014 is the deadline for the two-year program “Promoting integration policy and services for disabled persons in Ukraine” fulfilled jointly with UNDP, UNICEF, WHO and ILO (budget: $365 600)[10]. It is intended to facilitate the application of standards of accessibility and universal design ensuring the involvement and participation of disabled persons, such as assistance to overcome existing barriers that hamper or limit equal access to services and facilities for the public. This international project was designed to facilitate the implementation of Articles 4, 9, 23, 25, 26, 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons[11].

During 2014, the Ukrainian legislation was also expected to undergo changes, including planned improvements of eight legal acts. One of the most important laws that had been modified was the Law of Ukraine “On Standardization”. The innovations of the new redaction adopted on June 5 make it possible that from now on, according to Article 17, the developers of national standards and codes of the established practice intended to implement the rights of disabled persons and freedoms of man and citizen will take into account the needs of people and/or apply the principles of reasonable accommodation and universal design[12].

However, due to the slow implementation of all this, Ukraine has significant differences in the standards with other countries. For example, under the concept of “universal design” entrance to the building must be at zero level (so-called “barrierless entrance”)[13]. However, in Ukraine, on September 23, 2014 the State building norm V.2.2-15-2005 (hereinafter−SBN) specified that the level of the floor of the premises at the entrance to the building should be higher than the sidewalk level in front of the building at least by 15 cm. However, the provisions of this standard are inaccurate and often ignored. In particular, according to paragraph 2.13., the apartment house entrance doors should lead to up to 1.4 m passage. According to the same paragraph, the entrance door to the house shall be equipped with combination locks, locks talkies, etc. without indication of the height of installation. The thresholds should be below 2.5 cm. The most of the listed is still rare to see.

Another active SBN V.2.2-9-99 indicates that the entrance to the building should be higher than the sidewalk level in front of the building at least by 15 cm.

In this context, the availability of premises for disabled persons is supported by legal penalties applicable in the absence of such access. So, art. 96 of the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offences provides penalty for violation of the law during the planning and development of the territory reaching from 900 to 1000 times the personal income[14].

Article 2 of the Law of Ukraine “On Liability for Violations in Urban Planning” also provides for penalties for failing to create unobstructive living environment for disabled persons and other people with limited mobility ranging from 18 to 90 minimum monthly wages[15].

However, even despite these measures, in Ukraine, only 4% of the buildings can be considered accessible, indicating the failure of the owners of buildings or balance keepers to fulfill their duties making ramps, additional elevators and other accessibility facilities[16].

According to the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, as of January 1, 2014, only 24.5% of all buildings of the courts of Ukraine have ramps that meet V.2.2. SBN-17:2006. This is 11% more than on January 1, 2013, but it shows all the same the violation of the right of access to infrastructure, and the right of access to justice[17].

The State Agency for pensioners and veterans monitored the accessibility of buildings and premises of the territorial and local Pension Fund, State Employment Service, State Inspectorate of Labor, Social Insurance Fund against Temporary Disability, Insurance Fund against industrial accidents and occupational diseases, Social Security Fund for protection of disabled persons and social security institutions that are under control of Social Policy Ministry. As of July 1, 2014, out of the total number of buildings (7264) only 4335 (59.7% of the total) buildings in social domain were fully accessible. 2697 (37.1%) buildings were partially accessible, 232 (3.2%) buildings were inaccessible[18].

One of the indicators of accessibility is the possibility to travel without obstacles for the disabled persons. In this context, it is worth noting the service of Ukrzaliznytsia, which in January-October 2014 transported in special cars for disabled persons 1554 passengers with disabilities[19].

At the regional level, we can give an example from the experience of Kyiv. Thus, during ten months in 2014 the local branch of the transport service for persons with abnormalities of the musculoskeletal system transported 77 802 disabled persons who move in wheelchairs, on crutches or using sticks and with III, IV or V group of locomotor activity[20].

As of November 2014 there were 979 units of rolling stock with low floors adapted for persons with limited physical abilities and women with baby-buggies serviced the routes of urban public land transport under the public utility company Kyivpastrans. Moreover, 609 units of rolling stock were equipped with ramps. Nineteen trolleybuses and seven streetcars were equipped with external systems of notification about the arrival of rolling stock to the stop for passengers with impaired vision[21].

Another criterion for the feasibility of “accessibility” may be the possibility for disabled persons to participate in social and political life. The use of such information became particularly important following the adoption on 16.11.2011 of the Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the participation of disabled persons in political and public life and its Annexes. The purpose of this international instrument is to achieve full equality of participation in elections and representation of all members of society in the governing bodies to ensure that the diversity of positions and needs was taken into account in national, regional and local legislation and policy development in member states[22].

The 2014 elections in Ukraine were a striking confirmation of failure of these Recommendations. The major causes of low activity of disabled persons in the electoral process included the maladjustment of streets and places of public consumption to the needs of people with locomotion problems[23], absence of special tactile features for the blind, inadaptability of separate polling stations for self-dependent voting of disabled people[24] and unavailability of information on candidates for the people with visual and hearing impairment. For example, monitoring of polling stations in Vinnytsia Oblast showed that only about 12 of them could be called accessible or partially accessible to disabled persons. As a result, less than 12% of voters with locomotion problems could get to the polling stations without hindrance[25].

In general, if we analyze the laws, programs and structures of measures intended to protect the rights of disabled persons, we find that they more often than not fail to meet the requirements of international laws in the domain of human rights and contain no effective and real plans actions and instructions for their implementation[26].

3. The right to work

According to Art. 19 of the Law of Ukraine “On the basics of social protection of disabled people in Ukraine”, in the state a quota stipulated for employment of disabled persons shall make 4% of workplaces[27]. Therefore, one of the biggest problems in this area is that often the presence of disabled persons employed in enterprises is only imitated when they are but part-timers getting 1/4 or 1/3 of minimum pay[28]. One reason for this situation is the unprofitableness for the employer to equip workplaces especially for such people. Therefore, the employers have also learned how to avoid paying money to the budget for uncreated jobs for disabled persons.

There is also the issue of the first job: many companies prefer to see the disabled persons to be highly qualified specialists with experience, and they are not in a hurry to employ the beginners.

It is worth understanding that the source of most manipulations is in the lack of clear and consistent criteria for deciding on benefits and loans. The situation might be tackled with by regular monitoring and evaluation of the dynamics of jobs for disabled persons, actual amount of their wages, list of direct spending for job creation for disabled persons and others.

The situation may be also improved through replacement of penalties by employers’ mandatory contributions to the Fund for Social Protection of Disabled Persons. Under such conditions, the state might have guaranteed resources to create jobs for disabled persons without litigation with employers. According to experts, this solution could boost the income of the Fund to the tune of $60 to $100 MM. Simultaneously these simple steps may bring up the share of employment of disabled persons by 140 000 which is about the ILO standard[29].

One way to detect violations of the rights of people with special needs to work is the appropriate inspection by state inspectors for functioning of enterprises, institutions, organizations and individuals that use hired labor and their annual reports on the number of employed disabled persons.

For example, during the first six months of 2014 the territorial labor inspectorates inspected 6,000 of such entities and found that 2.100 employers violated legislation on employment and job placement of disabled persons. The inspections found 2,900 offences against Article 19 of the Law of Ukraine “On the basics of social protection of disabled people in Ukraine”. In particular 700 employers were brought out (eight or more employed persons) who were not registered with the offices of the Fund for Social Protection of Disabled Persons, 1,100 employers who failed to submit reports on employment and job placement of disabled persons, 1,100 employers who failed to fulfill quotas for employment of disabled persons[30].

Unfortunately, the analysis of the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons leads to the conclusion that the obligation of the company for employment for disabled persons is still not accompanied by its duty to choose and employ disabled persons to jobs created. In fact, it is the responsibility of the employment agencies listed in Article 18 of this Law.

By studying the job placement of disabled persons, the NGO Nezlamnist monitored compliance of public bodies with the laws of Ukraine in this domain. It was found that the State Labor Inspectorate of Ukraine in 2013 and the first six months of 2014 did not conduct any routine check of compliance with the Law of Ukraine “On the basics of social protection of disabled people in Ukraine” in central executive bodies. The do-nothingism of the authorized executive bodies regarding normative regulation of the above problem resulted in failure of almost all central executive bodies to fulfill the norm of employment of disabled persons. As a result the disabled persons cannot fully participate in public management that, firstly, is a violation of their constitutional rights, and secondly, demonstrates once again the failure to fulfill Recommendation of the Council of Europe.

So, the inspection has established the following (in parentheses we indicate the percentage of the average accountable number of employed disabled persons to the average accountable number of full-time employees): Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine — 5 persons (1.46%); Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine — 34 persons (1.04%); Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine — 9 persons (0.39%); Ministry of Culture of Ukraine−8 persons (0%); Ministry of Defense of Ukraine — 6 persons (2.9%); Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine — 3 persons (2.83%); Ministry of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Service of Ukraine — 4 persons (2.85%); Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine — 5 persons (2.83%); Ministry of Justice of Ukraine — 12 persons (2.16%).

Some government agencies have failed to file reports on employment and job placement of disabled persons[31].

In Ukraine, the government is not likely to develop outwork possibilities for disabled persons; there is no information on businesses using outwork, number of outworkers and more. The work of outworkers in Ukraine is regulated by the Bylaw on the labor conditions of outworkers approved by Goskomtrud USSR and Secretariat of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions on 29 September 1981 No. 275/11-99.

In Ukraine, the most vulnerable of all categories of disabled persons are disabled due to mental illnesses and mental retardation. As of the beginning of 2012, the mental health care institutions registered 1,164,000 People with mental and behavioral disorders, or 2,561 per 100,000 of population.

It should be noted that in Ukraine the public is steeped in prejudice about the possibility of integration of this category of disabled persons into society, and especially into the practical work.

According to the State Typical Program of Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on 08.12.2006 No. 1686, the disabled persons with mental illnesses and mental retardation are provided professional rehabilitation services that include career counseling, professional screening, proficiency training (retraining and skills upgrade), labor rehabilitation in terms of adaptation and job creation accounting for the special needs of disabled persons and rational job placement.

Analyzing the guarantees of the rights of disabled persons to work in Ukraine, it should be noted that in the year under review the Ukrainian human rights activists implemented rating of the best-rated companies that adhere to anti-discrimination standards “Corporate Equality Index 2014”. Its purpose is to encourage businesses to accelerate the implementation of the policy of equality at the workplace. In fact, based on the association agreement with the EU, in the course of four years the businesses are expected to establish procedures to prevent and combat discrimination at the workplace. The study was conducted during the first six months, but the results have not been published yet[32].

4. Right to Education

One of the basic constitutional rights of citizens with disabilities proclaimed by the state is the right to education. Art. 53 of the Constitution reads that “The State shall ensure accessible and free pre-school, complete general secondary, vocational and higher education at the state and communal educational establishments; the development of pre-school, complete general secondary, extra-curricular, vocational, higher and post-graduate education, various forms of study; the provision of state scholarships and privileges to pupils and students.”

The laws of Ukraine “On Preschool Education”, “On Education”, “On Vocational Training”, “On Higher Education”, “On the basics of social protection of disabled persons in Ukraine” confirm the right of disabled persons and establishes state guarantees to education at the level appropriate to their skills and abilities, desires and interests based on medical indications and contraindications for the next labor activity[33].

In Ukraine, the inclusive education is on the go; it is based on the right to equal access to quality education according to place of residence of all children, including those with disabilities. The concept of inclusive education is one of the main democratic ideas: all children are important and active members of society. In 2009, Ukraine ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizing by this that inclusive education is not only providing the best learning environment for children with disabilities, but also helps to eliminate barriers and break stereotypes: “The Inclusive education is a comprehensive process ensuring equal access to quality education for children with special educational needs by organizing their education in secondary schools through the use of student-centered teaching methods with account for individual characteristics of training and learning of these children”[34].

On June 5, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on inclusive education management.” The first innovation dealt with art. 12 of the Law of Ukraine “On Preschool Education”. From now on, in the preschool institutions the special and inclusive groups for education and training of children with special educational needs can be created in order to meet the educational and social needs as well as organization of correctional and developmental work.

Due to the second innovation, in all types of preschools, realizing the rights of children to pre-school education, the special needs of each child during training and education, including children with special educational needs in accordance with the principles of inclusive education will be taken into account.

The deputies also amended the Law “On General Secondary Education”, according to which the children with special educational needs going to special and inclusive classes of secondary schools are provided hot meals free of charge throughout the period of study in comprehensive secondary schools. The law takes effect from 1 January 2015[35]. Based on these amendments to the legislation, the Ministry of Education is to initiate the development of normative legal acts and methodology of inclusive teaching in preschools in 2914[36].

The legal aspects of introduction of the newest type of training in secondary schools were settled earlier. Due to this, more than 2.500 children with special educational needs began training in inclusive classrooms of the schools in the 2013–2014 academic year. In order to help children, now the personnel lists of secondary schools included such positions as teacher’s assistants, due to which over 660 assistants began working in inclusive classrooms.

However, despite the significant progress in this area, there remains a number of substantive problems to be addressed. First, the content of laws and regulations is not always promptly and properly brought home to the principals and teachers of educational institutions. Both managers and administrators of these institutions are personally liable for the fact that the most kindergartens and schools are not ready to admit a child with special needs.

Sometimes, in the pursuit of results, some officials and people’s deputies, not understanding the essence of the concept of inclusive education, are trying to emend legislation introducing discriminatory elements. For example, the people’s deputies suggest emending the draft law “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Education” concerning the access of persons with special needs to educational services” with extension of art. 3 and introduction of the new term “person with special needs, including disabilities, person who has significant deviations from normal physical and mental development…” which in essence is contrary to basic international documents and recommendations of UNESCO.

Another problem is the outstanding issue involving inclusive education of children with various functional disorders. According to the Vidrodzhennia Fund, over 50% of children with disabilities go to special boarding schools. Abroad only 3–4% of children with the most severe disabilities go to such schools. Others go to ordinary public schools and stay at home with their families[37]. 4.500 children with impairments of musculoskeletal system are usually instructed at home on the individual basis because of architectural inaccessibility of educational institutions and lack of teacher’s assistants and accompanying persons.

There remains a large number of children with mental retardation (20%) who are instructed individually, though they could study in classes along with healthy pupils of the same age[38].

Third, the local authorities controlling the preschool, secondary and extracurricular education make no necessary efforts to create appropriate conditions for education of children with special educational needs. This is due to inadequate funding, lack of interest of local authorities in providing adequate logistical and educational base for the institutions managing inclusive classes or groups[39].

Fourth, the issue of pay rise to teaching staff for working with children with special needs in inclusive classrooms needs urgent settling; otherwise, the experienced teachers will not go to work in inclusive classrooms.

Fifth, the authorities do not get NGOs involved in the work[40].

During the 2014 external independent evaluation, the specific needs of children with disabilities were taken into consideration. The persons with disorders that could be an obstacle for taking an exam during registration, among other documents, filed conclusions of health care institutions on the need of creation special conditions for external independent evaluation. The commissions of regional centers for regulation of evaluation of the quality of education decided to register 254 persons in this category (24 less than in 2013), including 59 with limited mobility (22 less than in 2013), 97 with impairment of hearing (8 less than in 2013). Due to the inability to create special conditions of external independent evaluation, eight persons were denied registration (20 less than in 2013)[41].

On July 1, 2014, the new redaction of the Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education” was adopted[42]. The document specifies that the educational establishments must create and ensure equal access to higher education, including the provision for people with special educational needs of special education and rehabilitation support and free access to the infrastructure of higher educational establishments taking into account limitations caused by health status.

According to the Law of Ukraine “On the basics of social protection of disabled people in Ukraine”, the persons with disabilities are entitled to priority acceptance as students of higher educational establishments. In 2014, this right was granted to disabled persons, group III, and children from low-income families in which parents were disabled persons. Nobody is allowed now to break a ban on sequence changes in the list of entrants: if an orphan entrant and contest winner receive equal grades, the former shall be placed higher on the list of entrants[43].

5. Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons

Under the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law of Ukraine “On the Rehabilitation of the Persons with Disabilities in Ukraine” defines the basic principles of creating legal, social and economic, and organizational conditions for elimination or compensation for limitations of living circumstances caused by health problems with persistent disorder of body functions, working system of support for physical, mental and social well-being of disabled persons, and aid in achievement of social and financial independence.

The rehabilitation of disabled persons includes medical, psychological, educational, physical, occupational and labor measures intended to assist persons in recovery of and compensation for impaired or lost functions of the organism[44].

In Ukraine, the disabled persons are provided with prosthetic appliances and orthopedic products according to the provisions of Art. 38 of the Law of Ukraine “On the basics of social protection of disabled people in Ukraine”. In particular, this article specifies that the disabled persons and disabled children be provided with such free services or services on favorable terms as welfare and health care, technical and other means of rehabilitation (means of transportation, prosthetic products, appliances designed to compensate for impairing of hearing and speaking, mobile phones for written communication, etc.) on the basis of individual rehabilitation program.

The Law of Ukraine “On the Rehabilitation of the Persons with Disabilities in Ukraine” contains a list of technical and other means of rehabilitation of disabled persons and categories of persons covered by the provisions of this law.

In particular, Art. 26 stipulates that the state guarantees the development and production of technical and other means of rehabilitation and procurement of special vehicles, medical products, and supplying them to persons with disabilities and children with disabilities for social adaptation, facilitation of working and living conditions, communication of persons with disabilities and children with disabilities, and dissemination of information about such products.

As of September 1, 2014, the number of people who are on the list of recipients of technical and other means of rehabilitation makes 526.700, including 33.100 disabled children. Of these, with allowance for the rated resource of the means of rehabilitation, the number of people who need rehabilitation equipment in 2014 makes 257.200, Including 24.400 disabled children. These indicators leave out the needs of people affected by ATO.

The access to rehabilitation facilities is currently violated with respect to many disabled persons. Thus, under the law, the disabled persons get welfare and health care services free or on easy terms, technical and other means of rehabilitation, medical products based on individual rehabilitation program, and cars based on medical opinion. However, according to the Committee on pensioners, veterans and disabled persons, the State Budget 2014 allocated 568.4 MM, which is 57.7% of the needed sum to ensure budget spending on the program for the provision of certain categories of the population of Ukraine with technical and other means of rehabilitation. In Zaporizhzhia, for example, in recent years, the supply of technical and other means of rehabilitation of disabled persons makes 60% of the demand. Persons, whose rehabilitation equipment is broken, often face problems such as long-term repair and need to collect many documents.

Getting transport free of charge is a complicated issue; according to the press service of the Government Commissioner for the Rights of Disabled Persons, as of January 1, 2014, 78,492 disabled persons queued up for a free or privilege-price car. In 2014, the special fund of the state budget was expected to allot 2.12 MM while requirements made 5 bn. In 2014, the position of the Government Commissioner for the Rights of Disabled Persons was liquidated.

The rehabilitation of persons injured in the area of ATO needs particular attention, because these issues are within cognizance of the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine, State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, State Management of Affairs and Ministry of Healthcare. The issue of medicamental rehabilitation complicated by the absence of the departments of physical rehabilitation and specialized personnel, as well as the absence of effective psychological rehabilitation in the most healthcare establishments.

Special attention should be paid to disabled persons who remained in the area ATO or had to leave it. According to the Ministry of Social Policy, as of October 2014 more than 1,500 casualties of ATO needed prosthetics while as of November 6 the Ministry of Healthcare acknowledged only 185 disabled persons.

6. The rights of people with Maidan-related disabilities

One of the most urgent issues in 2014 is to ensure the rights of people who were registered as disabled persons during the Revolution of Dignity. Many people received severe injuries in the clashes on the Nezalezhnist Square, on Hrushevsky and Instytutska streets, in the Mariyinsky Park and so on. These people deserve a priority implementation of their rights, as well as their protection, in case of need.

Unfortunately, many of those, who were registered as disabled persons during these events, face the same problems as other disabled persons: they run into difficulties obtaining a disability group, prosthetics, rehabilitation, and more.

Fortunately, the organizations of volunteers help to tackle many problems of disabled persons after the Maidan and ATO in Ukraine. However, this sort of effective mass activity cannot exist forever; therefore, it is necessary to change the situation with ensuring of the rights of disabled persons in the state today.

7. Helping people with disabilities, who are living in ATO zone

In 2014, all public and private organizations faced the new kind of services: the need to help disabled persons in the area of ATO.

As early as in 2012 the National Assembly of Disabled Persons supported by NGOs prepared and sent a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which emphasized the need to take measures to ensure the protection and safety of disabled persons in situations of risk, including armed conflicts, humanitarian situations.

The report stated[45] that the current legislation on assisting disabled persons in emergency anthropogenic, natural, humanitarian situations does not satisfy all requirements of the Convention and international human rights treaties. The new programs, legislative initiatives were designed after the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities[46] and they do not address the problems of this group of citizens, so their solution is not given due attention.

In December 2012, by the Presidential Decree No. 726/2012 the Ministry of Ukraine was reorganized into the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Defense[47]. However, the National Report on anthropogenic and natural security of Ukraine, 2011, stated that over 80% of machinery and equipment used by the units of the Operation Rescue Service of Civil Defense had been operated during 20–30 and more years and were morally and physically obsolete at the time. There were no special equipment to rescue people from the high-rise buildings[48].

The National target-oriented program of protection of population and territories against emergency anthropogenic situations and natural disasters for 2013–2017[49], which provides for immediate measures to protect the population and territories against emergency situations, ignores the needs of disabled persons.

The NGOs in their alternative report expressed concern that besides the obsolete machinery and equipment, lack of complex implementation of preventive measures; shortcomings of legal provisions for tackling security issues concerning the disabled persons and other people with limited mobility, the situation is further complicated by the existence of architectural and transport barriers and lack of training system intended to assist disabled persons during emergencies. This means that the disabled persons can remain outside assistance during evacuation and disaster relief, and this assistance will be provided “to the best of one’s ability”. Unfortunately, the current situation in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts has confirmed the findings of public organizations.

According to statistics, in the Donetsk Oblast there are 237,185 disabled persons (including 20,425 disabled persons of group 1, 1,602 disabled children), in Luhansk Oblast 102,668 people (including 9,920 disabled persons of group 1, 721 disabled children).

At present, the existing regulations relating to issues of public notification about situations of risk and evacuation do not contain provisions that would take into account specific needs of disabled persons. For example, there are no instructions:

— That people staying in nursing homes, hospitals, penitentiary institutions shall be evacuated in the first instance;

— Who and how in areas with risk situation shall support single or lonely disabled persons with impairment of vision, hearing, musculoskeletal system, mental disorders and elderly people;

— In which way the persons with impairment of hearing shall be informed about the special period, emergency etc.

— How a disabled person with impairment of vision and musculoskeletal system can go to a safe area or immediately get to a bomb shelter and others at the time of alarm signal.

Due to the activities of volunteers and NGOs evacuated 93,000 persons with disabilities from the area of ATO[50]. There were many difficulties not only with transportation in the combat zones, but in the far-away areas as well. These problems include as follows: finding of architecturally accessible habitat, accessible transport, wholesome food, treatment, living conditions; it was not easy to ensure social, juridical, legal, psychological and other assistance as well.

No group of population in eastern Ukraine is protected against devastating effects of hostilities, but the real vulnerability of a group depends on its socio-economic status, access to resources for assistance. For disabled persons who are denied access to evacuation services and support (no alerts, information in accessible formats, architectural inaccessibility of air-raid shelters, hiding places, feeding stations) this is an additional source of severe suffering.

The officials in charge of evacuation from the zone of ATO often overlook the disabled persons and the elderly, the latter are abandoned to their fate. The reason for this is the lack of clear interagency cooperation, coordination and evacuation plan, and the impossibility of unimpeded access of disabled persons to organizations that provide assistance and facilities of transport and social infrastructure.

Bringing disabled persons away from the zone of ATO, the volunteers met with instances that the hospital refused to hospitalize disabled people because they needed long-term care. Accompanying mother with her blind son, who had to receive hemodialysis therapy, for two days, the volunteers could not find a hospital, which could put them in ward[51].

The problems[52] related to the provision of assistance to disabled persons in the area of ATO may be divided into three groups:

Organization of leaving for a safe area:

— Lack of information about the possibility of departure. There were cases of false information (nobody knew who organized evacuation, what was the destination). Therefore, people were afraid to phone;

— Want or lack of money and transport to travel from the place of residence to the station;

— Inability to get to the railroad station on her/his own because of a serious health condition, lack of transport or safety of transportation;

— No train tickets, no special cars for transportation of persons with severe disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Placement of IDP with disabilities and creation of appropriate conditions:

— The lack of information on free places suitable for temporary placement of citizens with disabilities;

— The lack of state financial, material and technical support of institutions that carry out resettlement of IDP and food supply;

— The existence of barriers in the physical environment inhabited by temporarily resettled disabled persons (lack of access to sanitary rooms, places for food taking and accommodation of wheelchair-bound invalids);

— Failure to provide timely medical and psychological care, poor supply of medicaments, technical and other means of rehabilitation, health aids.

Job placement and employment of disabled persons, timely payment of pensions and public assistance:

— Lack of interagency coordination on job placement of disabled persons, lack of jobs in places of temporary residence;

By virtue of their increased vulnerability, the PWDs are likely to suffer much more from disruptions in the operation of infrastructure and support services. When resources are scarce, the disabled persons are more likely to be discriminated. The plight of women with disabilities is extremely hard.

1,500 disabled persons were employed by 31 enterprises of public organizations of disabled persons, including Ukrainian Society for the Blind and Ukrainian Society for the Deaf who had government assistance in the form of tax concessions in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. In summer, the Luhansk production-and-training enterprise was completely plundered and process equipment was taken away. Fifteen enterprises located in the territory controlled by terrorist organizations were brought to a stop. As a result, hundreds of employees with disabilities lost their jobs and livelihood.

In December 2014, the situation of disabled persons who have remained in the area of ATO is difficult due to lack of medical supplies, rehabilitation facilities, food, medical care and so on.

“Hemodialysis is not available now and will not be available in the foreseeable future. At present, the equipment for this procedure is in operable condition, but due to the lack of stable supply of associated medications and dialysis columns does not permit to invite patients to the hospital. In case of emergency, the hospital can conduct resuscitation, but nothing more, i.e. the people should be sent to other regions for hemodialysis.” (Application letter to the National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities of Ukraine).

On December 1, 2014, the President of Ukraine signed a Decree on introduction of the office of the Representative of the Rights of Disabled Persons and Decree of December 3, 2014 appointing to this position V.M. Sushkevych, President of the National Committee of Sports for the Disabled Persons of Ukraine and Head of the Ukrainian public association “National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities of Ukraine”.

There is hope that in the end this institution will improve the execution of rights of disabled persons in Ukraine. However, we should not forget that the execution of human rights in Ukraine, and in particular the rights of disabled persons, primarily depends on the attitude of society and every citizen to these issues.

8. Recommendations

1. To ensure implementation (including appropriate financial support) of the National Action Plan for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

2. To develop and adopt amendments to the legislation on health, education, rehabilitation, and job placement in order to bring it into line with the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

3. To analyze current international financial assistance for the restoration of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts to prevent the use of funds for creation of architectural and other barriers within facilities and services.

4. To bring off the adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On Compulsory State Social Medical Insurance” in order to ensure effective access to health care for disabled persons.

5. There is a need to amend the constitutional legislation of Ukraine, because the term “equality” (there is such term in constitutional legislation) and “non-discrimination” in relation to the disabled persons are not identical and differ significantly in content.

6. The government healthcare programs in the developmental stage should make provisions for quality services for disabled persons according to WHO recommendations.

7. The licensing for medical facilities should include such terms as the accessibility, reasonable accommodations, and universal design. To revise existing licenses and revoke licenses if the building of the institution and its premises are not designed for unimpeded access for disabled persons and other people with limited mobility.

8. To analyze state building norms, standards for health care institutions and bring them into line with European standards. To amend and supplement the SBN V.2.2-10-2001 “Buildings and constructions. Health care establishments”.

9. To promote accessibility, universal design, reasonable accommodation in all spheres of life.

10. To develop inclusive education system, identify the sources and amounts of required state funding. To take the necessary steps to employ disabled persons in the sphere of education.

11. To ensure special training and re-training of teaching staff as regards disability, inclusive education, attending children with disabilities, creating a barrier-free environment at educational establishments.

12. To involve civil society organizations of disabled persons in decision-making regarding the implementation of the right to education, medicine, rehabilitation, independent living.

13. To ensure the needs of disabled persons when carrying out health reform.

14. To enforce the Law of Ukraine on drafting individual rehabilitation programs for every person with disability.

15. To develop an effective mechanism to supply disabled persons with rehabilitation equipment and medicines, and compensation procedure for independent provision with such means which should be based on the principles of targeting, feasibility, rationality and efficiency.

16. To ensure the right to employment and job placement of disabled persons. To implement the system of sustained employment.

17. To ensure deinstitutionalization and independent living in the community with complex support for citizens with disabilities who require constant care and supervision, gradually reducing the number of nursing homes and developing a system of houses in the community accommodations for 8–16 adult citizens with disabilities.

18. The gradual reform of the system of care and tutelage of citizens with disabilities who do not understand the significance of their actions and their consequences, remove economic restrictions, including property, political and other rights of these disabled persons, including those under art. 70 of the Constitution of Ukraine and art. 32 of the Law of Ukraine “On the basics of social protection of disabled people in Ukraine”.

19. To start the introduction of sustained decision-making with involvement of qualified assistants for disabled persons who do not understand the significance of their actions and their consequences.

20. To enforce current legislation obligations under Art. 29 CRPD to eliminate discrimination and create an environment where the disabled persons can fully participate in political and public life.

21. To ensure monitoring of the implementation of existing legislation for the purpose of non-discrimination of disabled persons in the electoral process.

22. To ensure training of officials responsible for conducting the elections and those responsible for monitoring polling stations, disability issues, communication with people of different nosology, equipment for polling stations, access to information and more.

23. To amend the current legislation of Ukraine on gender equality in order to provide for the needs of disabled persons.

24. To prepare a state report on the implementation and ensuring of the rights of women with disabilities in Ukraine and their integration into society, involving public organizations of disabled persons in its preparation.

25. To ensure quality health care for women with disabilities to meet individual needs in health care. To train the health care personnel to provide for the needs of women with disabilities and ethics of communication.

26. To implement measures intended to actively employ women with disabilities in education, social policy, and health care.

27. To amend the existing legislation in conformity with CRPD standards regarding the right of access to information for disabled persons and effective monitoring of its execution.

28. To oblige the central and local governments to use for communication with disabled persons ways and formats that facilitate access to information adapting information products and information about public services.

29. To take administrative and promotional steps through mechanisms of dialogue and social responsibility for dissemination of information intended for private sector using formats and methods accessible for disabled persons.

30. To ensure the use of new technologies to promote independence and autonomy of disabled persons in exercising their right to information.

31. To ensure effective psychological, medical, and physical rehabilitation of the ATO participants.

32. To ensure conditions for the education and employment of persons with ATO-related disabilities.

33. To ensure the use of new technologies to enhance the independence of disabled persons.

34. To ensure protection and safety of disabled persons in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies in accordance with art. 11 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

35. To strengthen responsibility for failure to obey art. 9 “Accessibility” of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Misuse of Funds to Ensure Accessibility.

[1] Author: Maxym Shcherbatiuk (UHHRU).

[2] These data do not reflect the real situation. Alternative Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, National Assembly of Disabled Persons of Ukraine 2012. — The author’s note. The NGOs believe that one of the reasons of inadequate statistics on the number of persons with disabilities may result from the functioning of the state data collection system, which is imperfect and ignores international approaches.

[3] Ratified by Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in 2009.

[4] The Report of the State on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Ukraine, 2014.

[5] Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

[6] ATO actualization. Are Ukrainian cities for all or for selected individuals only?

[7] Ibid.

[8] The resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers On adoption of the state special-purpose program “National Action Plan of Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” for the period up to 2020 //

[9] Universal Design: the buildings are expected to be comfortable for the end-user

[10] Promoting integration policy and services for disabled persons in Ukraine

[11] Universal Design helps millions of people

[12] The Law of Ukraine “On Standardization”

[13] http: //

[14] Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offences

[15] Law of Ukraine “On Liability for Violations in Urban Planning”

[16] Ministry of Regions considered the problem of ensuring accessibility of buildings

[17] Information on the activities of the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine in 2012–2013 and the first quarter of 2014,, S. 36

[18] The accessibility of buildings is an indicator of care about disabled persons

[19] During 10 months the Ukrzaliznytsia transported in special cars for disabled persons 1.500 passengers with disabilities vagonah-15-tis-invalidiv.html

[20] nyam-opornoruhovogo-aparatu.html

[21] It will be easier now for disabled persons and mothers with baby-buggies to use urban transport

[22] Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (2011) for 14 Member States on the participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life

[23] “Your voice−your future”: monitoring polling stations.

[24] The needs of disabled persons are not accounted for in the elections to come.

[25] “Your voice−your future”: monitoring polling stations.

[26] Ensuring equality and non-discrimination of disabled persons in Ukraine.

[27] The Law of Ukraine “On the basics of social protection of disabled people in Ukraine” //

[28] On-the-books employment of disabled persons.

[29] On-the-books employment of disabled persons.

[30] Employment and job placement of disabled persons //

[31] The NGO Nezlamnist monitored compliance of ministries and other central executive bodies with the laws of Ukraine on the Principles of Social Protection of Disabled Persons concerning the fulfillment of the regulation of employment of disabled persons

[32] Which company will go to the top of tolerance rating?

[33] Ensuring rights to education for disability persons

[34] Inclusive education concept

[35] Poroshenko signed into law on management of inclusive education, see more details on the site of UNIAN //

[36] On parliament hearings “Education, health care and social welfare services for children with impairment of psychophysical development: problems and ways to tackle them” on June 4, 2014.

[37] Where do children with disabilities study?

[38] On parliament hearings “Education, health care and social welfare services for children with impairment of psychophysical development: problems and ways to tackle them” on June 4, 2014.

[39] Ensuring the right to education to children with special needs by the way of inclusive training //

[40] Ensuring the right to education to children with special needs by the way of inclusive training //

[41] Official report on external independent evaluation of the progress in studies of university entrants in 2014.

[42] The Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education”

[43] The Ministry of Justice has signed the Terms of entering the higher educational establishments of Ukraine in 2014 //

[44] The main principles of creation of conditions for rehabilitation of the persons with disabilities in Ukraine //

[45] The lost rights. The alternative report of NGOs on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, NADPU, Kyiv, 2012

[46] About the title of the document: The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The document was translated into Ukrainian and ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The title of the document in Ukrainian was as follows: Конвенція про права інвалідів. The English term “Persons with disabilities” was rendered as “інваліди” (the author’s note).

[47] http: //

[48] National Report on anthropogenic and natural security of Ukraine, 2011. P. 357, §14 //

[49] http: //

[50] The Program “Let us rescue together!”

[51] The All-Ukrainian Public Organization “National Assembly of the Persons with Disablities of Ukraine”.

[52] The conclusions of the All-Ukrainian Public Organization “National Assembly of the Persons with Disablities of Ukraine” while working in the area of ATO.

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