Presentation on theme: "The Situation in Cyprus Concerning the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. Constantinos Efrem, Cyprus Parallel."— Presentation transcript:
The Situation in Cyprus Concerning the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. Constantinos Efrem, Cyprus Parallel Session 1.2, 12 May 2011
Contents Introduction Legal situation – general – special laws The Law Concerning the protection of the Rights of persons with a mental handicap – Νο 117/89 The obligations of the State concerning the rights of people with intellectual disabilities The role of the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of persons with a mental handicap Compatibility of the Law No 117/89 Suggestions for incorporating provisions of the Convention into national legislation Other Corrective measures
Introduction Personally, I believe that for the time being their will be no other impact than “great” expectations for all of us who are directly or indirectly involved in the overall effort to assist persons with intellectual disabilities for inclusion in the Society. Yes, we agree that the Convention is an innovative instrument, it restores human rights for the persons with intellectual disabilities, treating them as human subjects and not as objects, with respect, dignity and equal treatment etc. But let us not forget that similar UN instruments of the past, for instance the Convention in the Rights of the Children is far from being adhered to by most countries which ratified it. On the other hand a proper implementation of the Convention by a State requires the introduction of new structures, services and other expensive actions, and this in the middle of world economic crisis. In spite all that, we have to be optimistic and see that in each country all parties concerned, the state, the persons with disabilities, their families and the organizations, as well as other social partners, work together to widen the horizons for the persons with intellectual disabilities for inclusion and better life, by amending/ introducing legislation, creating structures, policies and strategies and reforming social attitudes.
Legislation concerning equality General Legislation The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus safeguards the general principle for equality for all citizens of fundamental human rights. Article 28 of the Constitution safeguards equality without any exemption and Article 9 safeguards the right for a dignified living. Specialized Legislation The Law concerning the protection of the rights of persons with a mental handicap No. 117/89, which lays down the obligations of the State and provides for the establishment of the Committee and a Fund for the promotion of their rights. Law No. 23/I/96 concerning the property receivers of incapacitated persons The Law No. 113/I/99 (Revised) Concerning Education of Children with Special Needs. Main principle of the law is the inclusion of children in mainstream education and exceptionally in special schools. Law No. 127/I/2000 concerning Persons with Disabilities which defines the basic rights of persons with disabilities and equal treatment. Law No. 146/I/2009, concerning the introduction of a quota system concerning engagement of persons with disabilities in the wider Public sector (10% of the existing vacant posts).
Law 117/89 Title: Law concerning the Rights of Persons with a Mental Handicap, definition of the obligations of the State towards them and the establishment of a Committee and Fund for their promotion The Law provides inter alia: The person with a mental handicap is entitled to dignified living and social security It is the obligation of the State for the safeguarding of those rights as well as of the provision of the necessary means for their realization in practice providing or contributing according to his/ hers needs, in the field of: Special education Institutional residence and daily care (including medical) Creation of employment opportunities Care at home Legal protection in the social environment Assistance for inclusion Appointment of suitable persons for property administration The State undertakes its obligations as a matter of priority within its capabilities etc.
The Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with a Mental Handicap (Article 5(1) of the Law). The Committee consists of 10 members, 5 of which are Government Officers and 5 member of the Parents Association and are appointed by the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance. The Committee is chaired by a Government Officer. The Committee has the following Terms of Reference: To register all persons with a mental handicap To monitor, follow up and examine problems related to people with a mental handicap The follow up of action and measures taken in the field The follow up of the implementation of the Law The establishment of a list of persons for appointment as trustees, guardians or property receivers The establishment of a register of relevant services and institution The inspection of the places where people with a mental handicap live, work/ occupied and submit relevant reports Provision of advice and guidance to people with mental handicap, their parents, guardians etc. Make arrangements for suitable employment, education, rehabilitation and placement of people with mental handicap in centres and places of residence.
Compatibility of Law 117/89 This Law was considered as a land mark, when it was first enacted (1989). However many of its provisions are nowadays out of date (it provides for institutional residence, attendance in special schools, refers to retarded persons etc.) With the support of the Government’s legal service it has been prepared an extensive amendment of the law which takes into consideration modern trends and attitudes and suggests an effective mechanism for observing the realization in practice of the rights of persons with a mental handicap. The draft amendment law is still pending for political decision. In the text of the draft amendment law there is no explicit reference “that the persons with a mental handicap have the same rights or that they are equal before the law. This due to the existing attitudes concerning protection by third persons and the full and continuous guardianship. In order the law be compatible with article 12 of the Convention, further corrective measures should be taken.
Compatibility of Law 117/89 (2) Recently our Committee agreed to include in the amendments of the Law the following 3 Units: 1. Exercise of legal capacity 2. Protection by a Court of Law 3. Guarantees for the property receivers. 1. Exercise of Legal Capacity The person with mental disability has equal rights Is entitled to proper support from the State for the exercise of his/ her legal capacity The support should take account of the preferences and abilities of the person. The person has a right to own and keep property and to control his/ her financial affairs, provided he/ her has been assessed as capable of exercising his/ her legal capacity.
Compatibility of Law 117/89 (3) 2. Protection by a Court of Law A person with a mental handicap who has been assessed that can not exercise his/her legal capacity or to express his/ her will or to take his/ her own decisions should be placed under the protection of the competent District Court. On the submission of an application by parents, relatives, the Committee or the District Welfare Officer, the court examines and if it considers necessary appoints a property receiver or/ and guardian to whom the administration of the property is entrusted for a specified time limit. The same person may be appointed as guardian and as property receiver or may be appointed more than one guardians. The receiver or the guardian may be appointed by the Social Welfare Services.
Compatibility of Law 117/89 (4) The appointment of a property receiver or/ and a guardian is done according to specific criteria and procedure, and through a system of legislation and clearly define assignment. The guardians have the responsibility for the care of the person which should safeguard the following: The supply to the person of all necessities for a comfortable dignified and healthy living The supervision of the residence, living and working conditions of the person The dignity of the persons from any kind of exploitation and insult The inclusion of the person in the community and his/ her participation in common affairs The solution of any problems and satisfaction of needs of the person.
Compatibility of Law 117/89 (5) 3.Guarantees for the property receiver The property receiver cannot, without permission by court: To use the property or incomes there from To sell, mortgage or change the property To buy property on behalf of the person To invest money of the person To conciliate legal actions in favour or against the person. The Court of Law has the power to order the presentation of accounts of the property and to declare the disposition of property void. The Court can give permission for the disposal of property only when its convinced that it is for the benefit of the person. It is an offence on the part of the property receiver the non compliance to the provisions of this law. The Committee is following up and checking any property receiver/ guardian and informs accordingly the Attorney – General of the Republic.
General Corrective Measures It is essential to proceed with the amendment of the Law 117/89 The Law concerning Incapacitated Persons No 23/I/96 and the Contract Law of 1931 should be amended or abolished as they deprive the persons with a mental handicap of their rights. It is essential to encourage self-advocacy with new educational approaches within schools For the social inclusion of adult persons with a mental handicap a Plan of Action should be designed and include inter alia, structures for deinstitutiolisation or avoiding institutionalisation and strengthening and supporting families in order to assist them keep the person with a mental handicap in the family environment. The voluntary initiative should be only assistive and not decisive. The State should undertake its responsibilities and provide all the necessary means, including financing for the services offered to the persons with a mental handicap by the private sector. The expanding recourse to charity as a means towards meeting the needs of the persons with a mental handicap should stop the soonest possible.