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Mushegh Hovsepyan

Discrimination almost in all the fields of life: US Department of State about Armenia

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In the annual “Report about Human Rights Practices in 2014 in Armenia” issued by the US Department of State, is stated, “Persons with disabilities experienced discrimination in almost all areas of life”. The U.S. Department of State submits reports on all countries about human rights in all fields of life.

Related to the people being in prisons, the report states, “Overcrowding, inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care, and corruption remained problems in prisons, and conditions in some cases were harsh and life threatening”.

The report also states that prisons lacked accommodations for inmates with disabilities.
In the chapter about children’s rights there is a short reflection also about children with disabilities, with a special attention to the issues of children with intellectual disabilities.

According to UNICEF children with disabilities and from socially vulnerable families continued to face systematic disadvantages in access to school and continuous use of education services.
According to a UNICEF-commissioned survey released during the year, nearly one-third of the population believed children with intellectual disabilities should be kept isolated from society. According to official data for 2012, approximately 64.8 percent of children with disabilities were poor, and an additional 8.4 percent were extremely poor”.

A separate chapter states that any discrimination against people with disabilities is prohibited by law, however the issue of discrimination still remains problematic.

The law and a special government decree require that buildings, including schools, be accessible to persons with disabilities, but very few buildings or other facilities were accessible. Persons with disabilities seldom left their homes due to the social stigma associated with disabilities. At times children with disabilities missed school, due both to discrimination and the absence of facilities to accommodate their needs. The CESCR indicated in its July report that 18 percent of children with disabilities lacked access to formal education. The committee reported that in spite of the efforts of the state to expand the network of inclusive schools, officials did not fully implement the policy. A 2012 UNICEF survey found that one in five children with disabilities did not attend school, and one in eight resided in a residential care institution (orphanage or special boarding school). According to official data for 2012, approximately 64.8 percent of children with disabilities were poor, and an additional 8.4 percent were extremely poor.

The report of US Department of State pays especially focuses on the attitude towards children with intellectual disabilities. Basing on the observations of NGOs, the US Department of State specifies also the vulnerability of women with disabilities:

The Union of Legal Entitles “National Disability Advocacy Coalition” reported women with disabilities faced further discrimination because of their gender, including in social acceptance and access to health and reproductive care, employment, and education. The group reported that authorities were more likely to place girls with disabilities in orphanages than boys, and women with disabilities were more likely than women without disabilities to be subjected to physical and sexual violence.
Penitentiaries lacked adequate accommodations for persons with disabilities. Hospitals, residential care, and other facilities for persons with more significant disabilities remained substandard. According to official data, more than 90 percent of persons with disabilities who were able to work were unemployed”.

The humiliating and violent attitude in psychiatric institutions, labour exploitation and not appropriate food were not left out from the “Report about Human Rights Practices in 2014 in Armenia”.

The NGO HCAV, which monitored neurological-psychiatric institutions, reported in 2013that authorities subjected patients to humiliating and cruel treatment, labor exploitation, inappropriate food, poor sanitary and hygienic conditions, abusive use of physical restraints, and inadequate medical care. They had inadequate access to communications and information and limited or no access to information about their rights or their medical condition and treatment. HCAV and other human rights observers cited the risks of corruption and human rights abuse inherent in the nontransparent nature of commitment procedures, which subjected persons to mandatory treatment in neurological-psychiatric institutions, as well as the process of declaring a person legally incompetent. Furthermore, according to HCAV, the government did not keep track of or properly investigate deaths in these institutions”.

According to the US Department of State, Media reports alleged corruption and arbitrary rulings on the part of the Medical-Social Expertise Commission, a governmental body under the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs that determines a person’s disability status. Disability status, in turn, determines eligibility for various social benefits.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities but failed to carry out this mandate effectively”.

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