Statement by Ms Maria Ioannou, Social Inclusion Officer, Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance
Thank you Mr President
Firstly, Cyprus would like to align itself fully with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union.
Since this is the first time that Cyprus is formally represented in this conference, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you about the progress we have undergone.
The Republic of Cyprus has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as the Optional Protocol of the Convention in 2011 by forming and entering into force the “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and of Related Matters (Ratification) Law of 2011 ( L. No 8 (III) / 2011).With the ratification of the CRPD it is provided that both the CRPD and the Optional Protocol will be integrated in the national policies, programmes and guidelines regarding persons with disabilities. The CRPD and the Optional Protocol have entered into force as from 27th of July 2011.
The mechanisms necessary for the implementation and monitoring of the Convention in accordance with Article 33 of the CRPD have been designated by a decision of the Council of Ministers in Cyprus on the 9th of May 2012. The three mechanisms designated are:
A) The Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities was designated as the Focal Point for the implementation of the Convention. One of the responsibilities of the Department is to cooperate with all the competent bodies in order to coordinate the preparation of a National Action Plan on Disability. The National Action Plan will guide the competent Ministries / Departments / Services and other bodies for taking action and implementing the Convention in the Republic of Cyprus and also the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020. It is expected that by the adaptation and implementation of the National Action Plan on Disability more programmes, measures and actions implementing the Convention will be promoted giving emphasis during the first two or three years on measures with no significant cost, taking into consideration the existing economic crisis.
B) As Coordination Mechanism, the Pancyprian Council for Persons with Disabilities was designated being administratively supported by the Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. Contact Points in all competent public authorities have been defined who will participate together with representatives of the organisations of the disabled in Thematic technical committees under the coordination of Council in order to prepare and monitor the national disability action plan.
C) The Ombudsman and Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights -Equality Authority was designated as the Independent Mechanism for protecting, promoting and monitoring the implementation of the Convention.
The Government of Cyprus considers that the effective implementation of CRPD and the rights of persons with disabilities is based on two strong platforms that exist in Cyprus:
Firstly, there is an administrative structure focused on persons with disabilities. This is a new department, the Department for Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, which was established in 2009, under the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. This Department was established with the mission to coordinate, monitor and implement policies concerning persons with disabilities. Men, women and children with disabilities in Cyprus have a central reference point in the public service to address to in order to learn about their rights and how to pursue them.
Secondly, I would like to stress that, in Cyprus, consultation between public services and the organisations of persons with disabilities is not only an institution by practice but is also a legal obligation. “The Consultation process between the Government and other Services for issues concerning Persons with Disabilities Law of 2006” (L.143 (I) / 2006) is a Law that puts an obligation on any public service before deciding on any matter that concerns persons with disabilities, to consult first with the Pancyprian Confederation of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities. Thus, this Law gives the opportunity to persons with disabilities to participate in the decision – making and problem solving- procedures being in consistence with Articles 4.3 and 33.3 of the Convention.
Certainly, in spite of the positive steps that have already been taken there is a long way in front of us for the implementation of all rights of persons with disabilities. We consider CRPD as the roadmap for decades ahead and we face the existing global economic limitations as challenges and not threats to continue to promote rights of men, women and children with disabilities.
Thank you Mr President.