The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

Discrimination complaints from persons with disability dropped by 24%

Janet Fenech Wednesday, 4 August 2021, 14:34 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Commission for the Rights of Persons with a Disability (CRPD) received 24% fewer complaints from persons with a disability in 2020, when compared to 2019.

In 2020, the CRPD received 475 requests for investigations into discriminatory issues, while in 2019 this number stood at 629.

In total, there were 19,705 people registered with a disability in 2020 compared to the 18,848 people registered at the end of December 2019, the CRPD's annual report presented by the Minister for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing Julia Farrugia Portelli showed. From those registered with a disability in 2020, 15,268 had physical disabilities while 3,438 had an intellectual impairment, 2,506 persons had a psychological disability, 1,569 had a hearing impairment and 1,571 had an impairment related to sight (Totals do not match because people can have more than one impairment).

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The CRPD is responsible to ensure that the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act is observed. It receive complaints from persons with disability and their family members who feel that they are being discriminated against on the grounds of disability and are legally empowered to commence investigations into any case on their own initiative.

The highest numbers of discriminatory reports were lodged in connection with alleged misuse or abuse of a blue badge (230), while 88 reports were filed relating to matters regarding accessibility.

Education and accessibility requests dropped from 2019 by 63% and 49% respectively whilst employment and health requests for investigations increased by 75% and 33% respectively.

People with a physical impairment was the category in which most received blue badges (1968) with those with intellectual disability receiving the second highest amount (224).

Furthermore, in 2020, 1,633 EU disability cards were issued to men whereas 1,500 were issued to women.

Intellectual disability was the second highest category for the issuing of disability cards following physical impairments, with 527 people receiving an EU disability card for intellectual disability and 2604 for a physical disability. Psycho-social disability was the third most common category with 446 cards being issued.

In 2020, the Commission's Compliance Unit - responsible for monitoring, auditing, giving advice and certifying applications that are made for the development of buildings which are open to the public - received 4,030 applications. Of these 611 were approved, 2,819 were not approved and 600 fell under the parameters of MEPA Circular 2/14 and were therefore excluded from being vetted by CRPD.

Fewer applications were approved in 2020 when compared to the 1,839 applications (from a total of 2,548 applications) approved in 2019.

In April 2020 a 'Disability Taskforce' launched working to monitor and challenge policies and strategies in place that impact persons with disability and their families.

CRPD also launched an awareness campaign during the Covid-19 pandemic, shining a light on the lives of persons with disabilities during the pandemic. As part of this initiative, a 24 hour helpline at CRPD was set up in order to make up for the lack of physical support able to be offered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This Covid-19 phone line to support people with disabilities was used by over 2,000 people to date, noted Minister Portelli.

Minister Portelli expressed how her ministry together with CRPD is dedicated to the training sessions which elucidate how to better deal with those who have a disability, especially in the work force, so as to ensure better provisions for persons with a disability are given in the private sector.

"Our success as a commission in achieving all this during a pandemic should be attributed to the 40 people working at the CRPD, most of whom have a disability themselves", concluded Samantha Pace Gasan, the commissioner for the Rights of Persons with a Disability.

 


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