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Last Saturday, dozens of people dressed in black carried a coffin through the streets of Warsaw to the presidential palace.

Mourners in this symbolic funeral procession included people with disabilities and soliciting supporters polish For authorities to adopt legislation guaranteeing access to personal support – the one-to-one support a person with a disability may need for day-to-day living.

Personal aids enable people with disabilities to do basic activities such as working, studying, visiting friends and family, taking a walk or going to a restaurant. Such assistance is often necessary for people with disabilities to enjoy their rights, which include living and participating in the community on an equal basis with others. Without this, people may have no choice but to move to segregated residential institutions, where they lose all autonomy.

“Access to personal assistance for people with disabilities is a matter of life and death,” said Lukasz Orilski, an activist European Network on Independent Living (ENIL) who is himself supported by a personal assistant. “This form of protest may sound harsh, but the situation is quite serious.”

At present, individual assistance is available through grants from the central government. local authority And NGO, However, according to one Analysis Services were not provided on an ongoing basis in 2020-2021, and only 0.6 percent of people with disabilities benefited from the program, according to the Polish Supreme Audit Office.

In March, representatives of organizations of people with disabilities met with the Ministry of Family and Social Policy to hear about key provisions of the draft bill to be operational from 2021. Orilski says that based on what was shared, the bill does not go far enough and some provisions are not in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Poland ratified in 2012.

Office of the President announced Last week it hoped to present a draft bill for public consultation “as soon as possible” and take it to parliament before elections in the fall. Activists worry that if the draft bill is not considered before the election, it could be scrapped altogether.

Article 19 The CRPD guarantees the right of all persons with disabilities to live independently and calls on governments to provide community-based services, including personal supports necessary, to support that right.

Polish authorities should listen to the protesters and ensure that people with disabilities receive the support they need to live independently and be included in the community.

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