Monitoring the rights of disabled people in Montenegro, focusing on access to personal assistance, progress towards de-institutionalization, access to regular services, the impact of austerity measures and the use of structural funds.
Monitoring the rights of disabled people in Montenegro is mainly done by disabled people’s organisations and international organizations and embassies. When it comes to monitoring the rights of disabled people by the state, it can only be done through reports or annual reports on the implementation of certain laws, strategies and policies, or by the reporting by the international community, such as a write-up for the Progress report that is sent to the European Union. From the moment negotiations with the European Union (June 2012) began, the regular reporting on the human rights of disabled people in Montenegro was being prepared by a coalition of NGOs monitoring the progress of negotiations on Chapter 23. Since October 2012 periodic reports have been prepared and an annual report is currently being prepared on the judiciary and fundamental rights, part of this is dedicated to the rights disabled people. In addition to the report prepared by the DEU, the coalition and the state in Chapter 23, we should note that much of the text related to disabled people is found in Chapter 19 on Social policy and employment.
Also periodic meetings between the EU Delegation and civil society are held where civil society has the opportunity to inform the DEU on the state of human rights of disabled people.
However, it is important to note that, despite the fact that Montenegro has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities since 2009, progress in respecting human rights of disabled people by the state is not evident. The state of Montenegro has not yet prepared an alternative report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was supposed to be prepared in 2011, and it currently works without the involvement of representatives of disabled people’s organizations in the consultation process.
Legislation has been brought in over the last number of years however the majority of these are laws coordinated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, which means that the treatment of disabled people is in terms of social issues and political issues, not human rights.
As the implementation of the law is slow, and the approach is thorough, most of the work is performed systematically and planned by disabled people’s organisations. This is the case with support services, or any services at all. Many of these services were first launched by disabled people organisations and are still implemented on a project- by-project basis. For example, for the first time psychological counselling was initiated in 2006, the Programme for guide dogs and helpers in 2007, accessible transportation in 2008 and Personal Assistance in 2009. The first three services were launched and continually developed by UMHCG, while personal assistance was initiated by local organizations in Niksic and Organization of the Blind of Niksic, Savnik Plužine and Association of Plegije from Niksic. In addition, this is the first pilot project of personal assistance in Montenegro and for the first time in addition to persons with physical disabilities, people with visual impairments were also included. So this is the first example of the assistance provided to persons with visual impairments, which respects equality for all and the principles of personal assistance.
The Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro implemented Personal Assistance in the Student Services and in cooperation with the Centre for Research and Monitoring and OKC JUVENTAS drafted a study on the establishment of Personal Assistance services in Montenegro. There is risk of unsustainable Personal Assistance services because a number of organizations, and also the authorities of personal assistant service call similar services, such as assistance at home, assisting in the classroom, assisting at work personal assistance services. This endangers the rights of users of Personal Assistance services and is one of the reasons why disabled people’s organizations have started implementing personal assistance services and advocating for standardization of the service by the law.
In particular, this technique does not provide continuous funding of personal assistance services, or create conditions for independent living for disabled people. The only positive example in Montenegro is the municipality of Herceg Novi, which provides this service for a disabled student at the Faculty of Philosophy in Niksic.
If you talk about austerity, then first of all we must remember that we should establish uniform criteria and standards of Personal Assistance in order to make an accurate assessment of the actual users of Personal Assistance in Montenegro. Although this is a relatively expensive service, the effects and results that leads to it must not be omitted, especially the high degree of independence of disabled people.
When it comes to deinstitutionalization in Montenegro it was started on the initiative of international organizations, especially UNICEF and UNDP. For this purpose, special schools were closed and reformed into resource centres and several day care centres were opened in most towns in Montenegro. Children with disability are being educated in regular schools or resource centres, but despite the increased number of children with disabilities in mainstream schools, there are still enormous problems and disadvantages of inclusion and support for community life. First of all, nothing has been done in terms of architectural accessibility of schools. Teaching assistants are still, as a rule,a voluntary service, literature is largely unavailable.
Support for Community Living is still in the initial stages. There is a lot more to do in terms of support services for all disabled people to live in the community.
Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro
Address: Vlada Cetkovica, building Sajo, entrance IV/1/125
Tel/fax: +382 20 265 650
Mobile phone: +382 69 385 976
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Web site: www.umhcg.me
 Website in Montenegrin language http://www.umhcg.me/?page_id=61
 In Montenegrin language http://cemi.org.me/images/dokumenti/studije/studija_socijalna_iskljucenost.pdf