The Malta Independent 8 December 2019, Sunday

‘Ghetto’: Amy Zahra blasts concept behind Naxxar hub for persons with a disability

Monday, 22 July 2019, 20:45 Last update: about 6 months ago

The project to build a community hub for persons with a disability in Naxxar has been blasted by the president of Amputees4Amputees, Amy Camilleri Zahra, who said the project will result in the "ghettoization" of persons with a disability.

Project Reach, a community Hub for disabled persons is planned to be up and running by 2022.

On Monday, Parliamentary Secretary Anthony Agius Decelis explained that excavation works have begun, and that the hub will have the first ever one-stop-shop for persons with disability; where people can go with any queries related to their disability, or with queries for a family member who lives with a disability.

The €32 million, he said, will include a hostel which will welcome foreigners with disabilities coming to Malta for a holiday.

But the project did not go down well with Camilleri Zahra, herself a person with a disability.

In a Facebook post, the university lecturer said "Just lovely ... because if I'm a disabled person and coming to Malta on holiday, that's where I'd want to stay - in a ghetto, just for disabled people and not in a hotel."

"Flash news: When I go abroad I look for hotels with an accessible room and not hotels for disabled people like in some ghetto. That's what all other disabled people do when going abroad. That's what other disabled people coming to Malta do, too," she continued.

Objection letters filed in 2017 had stated that the concept of a disability hub detaches them from the community, and goes against the provisions of the Equal Opportunities (Persons and Disability) Act and CRPD guidelines which recommend that persons with disability not be physically segregated."

The Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability had opposed the project in its first iteration in 2015, so much so, that it had explicitly mentioned such opposition in its four-year-report presented to the United Nations in criticism of Government’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.

More so, the plans for the project were fundamentally rethought following CRPD’s critique, which it offered through the appropriate channels.

Such channels include its council, composed of persons with disabilities and their representatives, academics, service providers and a member chosen by government and another representing the opposition. Earlier this year, the Council was given a presentation on the project and a frank discussion ensued, during which it was decided that the Commission should request to monitor the project to ensure it does not breach the rights of persons with disability, the CRPD said.

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