“People with disabilities have the same rights as other persons. Any support, representation or assistance in decision-making cannot overcome his will.”
These were the words of Irma Baraku, Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination in Albania, as she signed the Right to Act Declaration. Commissioner Baraku is the final high profile signee for our declaration for the duration of the campaign.
Tomorrow will be our last day of the campaign and we would like to thank all those who supported our efforts. As well as high ranking political figures, we have received support from people living in residential institutions (some of whom were banned from being photographed even though they wanted to because of their legal capacity deprivations).
In Albania, as well as receiving support from politicians, the Albanian Disability Rights Foundation (ADRF) sought to gain support from civil society organisations who were concerned with improving the citizenship rights of people with disability. For example, last week, representatives from ADRF met with Down Syndrome Albania (pictured above), a parents’ organisation of children with down syndrome, Down Syndrome Albania – Kreu.
‘Down Syndrome Albania say that the challenge is huge with implementing the article 12,’ reported Sidita Fortuzi, principal lawyer at ADRF. ‘They told us about a case where a bank refused to open an account for one child because they “were not sure how this account could be legally handled when he reached 18 years of age.”‘ The bank’s approach in this case is nonsense. However, Down Syndrome Albania didn’t want to make a case even though ADRF strongly suggested that this case should be brought to the Commissioner against Discrimination. ‘I will try again because I see some good potential in this case under the perspective of article 12,’ Fortuzi reports. ‘The case also demonstrates that there is a total lack of services for children and adults with down syndrome to assist and help decision making, and to learn and develop decision-making skills.’
These cases arise all over the world. Yet organisations like Down Syndrome Albania have little information on how they can advocate for equality before the law for people with disabilities. This small act of signing the declaration helped facilitate a meeting with ADRF to discuss what equality before the law might mean in practice for tens of thousands of Albanian citizens.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of PERSON (Partnership to Ensure Reforms of Supports in Other Nations) and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.