On October 28, the Government of the Republic of Armenia adopted a decision according to which a significant part of the graduates of special orphanages in Armenia will not be able to be a beneficiary of the "Providing housing to the graduates of the orphanage of the Republic of Armenia" program. The decision stipulates that "beneficiaries who do not have the ability to provide self-care" do not have the right to receive an apartment purchase certificate.
Within the framework of the "Providing housing to the graduates of the orphanage of the Republic of Armenia" program, the RA government allocated 1.9 billion drams from the state budget in 2019 to issue certificates for the purchase of apartments for 300 graduates of the orphanages. To date, 210 graduates have obtained apartment purchase certificates.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, which drafted the mentioned decision, states that it has received applications from the graduates of the specialized orphanage in Kharberd, who, despite their age, still live in the Kharberd orphanage, also want to use the opportunity to obtain a certificate. According to the
Ministry, "based on the best interests of the graduates of the orphanage who do not have the ability to provide self-care, the Ministry believes that their housing should be provided not with an apartment purchase certificate, but with a certain care in small group homes."
According to the Constitution of Armenia, the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter referred to as the Law) prohibits discrimination on the grounds of disability. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter referred to as the Convention) and the Committee recognize the right of persons with disabilities to make decisions and to receive assistance for this purpose. In exceptional cases, when it is not possible to determine the will of a person by using the most appropriate means of support, it is permissible to be guided by the best interpretation of the will and preferences of the person with a disability. Neither the Convention nor the Law provides an authority to be guided by the best interests of an adult with a disability.
At the same time, one of the directions of the state policy defined by the Law is the provision of the exercise of the right to choose a place of residence.
Most recently, the European Committee of Social Rights has expressed concern about access to housing for people with disabilities in Armenia, discriminatory legislation, and very limited means of community support.
This de facto decision may provide a basis for rejecting (or not approving) the applications of persons with disabilities who meet all the requirements for obtaining an apartment purchase certificate solely because of their disability and therefore in need of support. The argument that those who do not have this or that skill can find themselves in dangerous situations cannot justify discrimination. On the contrary, it proves the need for the state to fulfill its duty to ensure and protect the security and well-being of the people. In this case, people can organize their lifestyle in the place of their choice, receiving the necessary social and other services.
We, the undersigned organizations, consider that the RA Government has enshrined discriminatory regulation against persons with disabilities, which is prohibited by the RA Law "On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities".
We urge the Government:
- Abolish the decision and refrain from any action contrary to the obligations of the RA RA Law "On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities";
- Restore the right of all persons with disabilities, including those with "inability to provide self-care", to obtain an apartment purchase certificate on an equal basis with persons without disabilities;
- Exclude the adoption of draft normative government decisions without public discussion, as defined by law;
- Respect the rights of all persons with disabilities and assist them in implementing their decisions;
- Assist those who have moved from institutions to their apartment through reasonable accommodation, home care, and the provision of personal (social) assistance services.
"Disability Rights Agenda" NGO
“Agate” Rights Defense Center For Women With Disabilities NGO
"Astghatsolk" NGO for Sustainable Development Initiatives
"Legal Analysis and Development Center" NGO
"We can" NGO for the Protection of the Interests of Children and Youth with Intellectual Disabilities and Their Families
Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor
Non-Discrimination and Equality Coalition
The official version of the announcement is in Armenian. It has been translated into English by the DRA and may not completely match the Armenian version.