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Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities considers the initial report of Montenegro

Committee on the Rights of Persons                                                                                          
  with Disabilities 

  18 August 2017

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Montenegro on its implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Goran Kusevija, Director General of the Directorate for Social Welfare and Child Protection of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro, noted that the provisions of the Convention formed an integral part of the internal legal order, had a primacy over domestic legislation, and were directly applied when the regulations were different from the domestic legislation.  Montenegro had improved the legislative and institutional framework for the protection of persons with disabilities through the adoption, in June 2015, of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination of Persons with Disabilities, which had achieved a high level of compliance with the Convention.  The Government had also adopted a strategy for the protection of persons with disabilities from discrimination for the period 2017-2021, which followed the areas of activities and timeframe of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020.  Mr. Kusevija emphasized that the Government did not promote the medical approach to disability, but rather the principle of positive discrimination.  Beneficiaries of care and assistance allowances could exercise the right to various subsidies. 

In the ensuing discussion, Experts commended the State party’s sincere commitment toward disability-oriented instruments, legislation and public awareness campaigns. Nevertheless, the lion’s share remained in terms of the implementation of the Convention.  Experts inquired about the financial situation for non-governmental organizations that provided social services for persons with disabilities, transparency of the Fund for Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities, legislation and interpretation of reasonable accommodation, definitions of disability and discrimination, involuntary placement and involuntary treatment, recognition of sign language and Braille language, inclusive education, deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities, and the protection of women and girls with disabilities.  They also discussed mainstreaming of the rights-based approach to disability across all sectors, participation of civil society and their input into policy-making and law-making, access to justice and free legal assistance, accessibility of health care, guardianship laws and supported decision-making regimes, independent living schemes, availability of emergency-related information in accessible formats, the right to marry, disability allowance, availability of personal assistants, employment of persons with disabilities, and sentences for disability-based discrimination.     

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Kusevija noted that the Government of Montenegro was making every effort to improve the lives of persons with disabilities, who for a long time had been stigmatised.  The Government would carefully consider the Committee’s recommendations and it would act accordingly.

Lászlo Gábor Lovaszy, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Montenegro,  identified significant progress in the implementation of the Convention, even though a lot remained to be done, namely with respect to the medical approach to disability.  The local level was the most important when it came to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities. 

Concluding the meeting, Theresia Degener, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive and interactive dialogue, expressing hope that the Committee’s concluding observations would help Montenegro to better implement the Convention. 
 
The delegation of Montenegro consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs, the Ministry of Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, the Ministry of Public Administration, and the Permanent Mission of Montenegro to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Monday, 21 August, at 3 p.m. to consider the initial report of Latvia (CRPD/C/LVA/1).
 
Report

The initial report of Montenegro can be read here: CRPD/C/MNE/1.
 
Presentation of the Report
 
GORAN KUSEVIJA, Director General of the Directorate for Social Welfare and Child Protection of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro, said that by ratifying the Convention, Montenegro had joined the group of States which sought to implement the Convention and take appropriate measures to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.  The provisions of the Convention formed an integral part of the internal legal order, had a primacy over domestic legislation, and were directly applied when the regulations were different from the domestic legislation.  Montenegro had improved the legislative and institutional framework for the protection of persons with disabilities through the adoption, in June 2015, of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination of Persons with Disabilities, which had achieved a high level of compliance with the Convention.  The Government had adopted a strategy for the protection of persons with disabilities from discrimination for the period 2017-2021, which followed the areas of activities and timeframe of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, with a special overview of the results of the previous strategy, the existing legal framework and the current position of persons with disabilities in Montenegro, determining on the basis of that strategic goals in each of those areas and concrete measures and activities.  The drafting of the strategy included an inter-ministerial working group which consisted of representatives of relevant ministries and representatives of disability civil society organizations. 

Mr. Kusevija emphasized that the Government did not promote the medical approach to disability, but rather the principle of positive discrimination.  Beneficiaries of care and assistance allowances could exercise the right to subsidies for monthly electricity bills, public transport privileges, privileges for paying postal services, use of the Internet, as well as more benefits at the level of local self-governing bodies.  Montenegro had also established counselling, mediation, accommodation services, day-care centres, home assistance, SOS telephone and community services for persons with disabilities.  Three residential institutions were set up for accommodating adults and elderly people, where persons with disabilities could also be accommodated.  A certain number of children with disabilities who were without parental care were placed in an institution dealing with the care of children without parental care.  For all those children, their stay in institutions was free of charge; their safety was ensured, any kind of punishment was prohibited, whereas health care and educational support were provided.  Each child or adult placed in the institution for social and child protection was cared for by a team of experts.  Montenegro had prescribed standards for the exercise of the right to multiple forms of assistance for children and persons with disabilities, from teaching assistants in education to personal and home assistants.  The Law on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities regulated the manner and procedure for exercising the right to the professional rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, measures and incentives for their employment, the way of financing and other issues of importance for their employment. 

As for the harmonisation of domestic legislation with the Convention, Montenegro had amended its Criminal Code in order to link the aggravating circumstances when criminal offences were committed against persons with disabilities.  A new criminal offence was imposed on the offender who committed a crime against a minor, pregnant woman or a person with disabilities.  The Law on the Execution of Prison Sentences, Fines and Security Measures stipulated that convicted persons with disabilities should not be discriminated against and that they should receive accommodation appropriate to the type and degree of disability.  Inclusive education applied the guidelines and principles of relevant international documents.  The medical model was overcome and a socially integrative model was introduced.  The first choice was inclusive education; children with disabilities attended regular kindergartens and schools.  For children with severe disabilities there was a possibility to become involved in integrated classes at regular schools, with the joint teaching of individual subjects with peers in regular classes.  Special institutions had been reformed into resource centres and oriented to support inclusive education. 

The Ministry of Health had adopted a new rulebook on indicators and methods of using medical rehabilitation in health institutions which performed specialised medical rehabilitation.  In order to remove architectural barriers, the Law on Spatial Planning and Construction of Facilities had been adopted in 2008 and amended several times.  In 2016 the Ministry of Information Society and Telecommunications had adopted the guidelines for the development and management of Internet presentations of State authorities, State administration and local self-government.  The policy of improving accessibility of cultural content was still a work in progress.  The Government was of the view that the role of the civil sector in the implementation of the Convention was very important.  Despite those improvements, practice showed that persons with disabilities were still exposed to social marginalisation, which required further empowerment of their institutions and resources, Mr. Kusevija concluded.
 
Questions by the Country Rapporteur
 
LÁSZLO GÁBOR LOVASZY, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Montenegro, commended the State party’s sincere commitment towards disability-oriented instruments and legislation by issuing the first strategic document in 2007 just after the adoption of the Convention.  It was also promising that every second Montenegrin citizen had learned something new about disability during the campaign in 2011 and that 25 per cent of citizens had changed their opinion about persons with disabilities.  Nevertheless, the lion’s share remained in terms of the implementation of the Convention.

Mr. Lovaszy asked for concrete experiences and plans for a more sustainable and secured financial situation for non-governmental organizations that provided social services for persons with disabilities at the local level.

What was the level of transparency of the Fund for Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities and what was the benchmarking set for further and comparable improvement, as well as the expected outcomes?  Had civil society been invited to make comments on the planned programmes and projects prior to the adoption of those initiatives?

How was the universal design implemented and enforced in everyday situations?  How was reasonable accommodation legislated and interpreted, not only in the field of employment but also in other areas?     

As for the draft law amending the Anti-Discrimination Law, definitions of disability and discrimination had to be clear and more achievements should be done, Mr. Lovaszy noted.  The current pieces of legislation should be scrutinised together.  Was there a concrete roadmap for the identified 34 laws to be amended accordingly in order to avoid any empty promises? 

Did the Government have an official position regarding the question of possible conflict between the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, known as the Oviedo Convention, and the Convention of the Draft Additional Protocol to the Oviedo Convention regarding the protection of human rights and dignity of persons with mental disorder with respect to involuntary placement and involuntary treatment?

What were concrete results of the strategies for social inclusion of the Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro, protection against domestic violence, sustainable development, and development of female entrepreneurship from 2016 and 2020? 

Mr. Lovaszy regretted that the State party had not officially recognised sign language? As for inclusive education, he urged the State party to consider the proper interpretation of inclusive education in line with the Convention. 
 
Questions by Committee Experts

When developing a strategy for persons with disabilities, were civil society organizations invited to participate in discussions?  Were deaf people able to communicate in sign language?  Was the Government considering officially recognizing sign language?

Did the definition of discrimination contain reference to denial to provide reasonable accommodation?  Would the State party consider adopting a single definition of disability that would be in line with the human rights-based approach?

What was the outcome of the previous strategy plan for persons with disabilities?  What kind of funding was set aside to ensure that the strategy became a reality?

When would the Government come up with a strategic plan for the deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities?  It seemed that the same institutions in Montenegro housed both the elderly and persons with disabilities, which was in violation of the Convention.

What steps had been taken to ensure that children with disabilities had equal access to community-based programmes and services?  What human and financial resources had been allocated for that purpose?

What was being done to support and strengthen civil society to include people with intellectual disabilities?

With respect to equality and non-discrimination, was there any compilation of statistics on how persons with disabilities had filed complaints?  Did Montenegro have any kind of public procurement to promote accessibility of all types?  Were there any accessibility laws in place that were legally enforced? 

Experts welcomed changes in the Criminal Code which introduced harsher sentences for crimes based on disability.  Had anyone been tried under those amendments?   

There were complaints that the Health Centre in the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, had not been accessible yet.  What kind of sanctions were applied when accessibility standards were not implemented?  Was there any disability training delivered to urban planning engineers and architects?

What steps had been taken to ensure accessibility of the SOS telephone to deaf persons, and to make bank cash machines accessible to blind persons? 

As for women and girls with disabilities, how were they protected from multiple forms of discrimination?  Was positive discrimination implemented in all areas of life? 

There were reports that disability laws were often changed without the knowledge of persons with disabilities.  How many cases had been prosecuted for discrimination against persons with disabilities?  What were the Government’s plans to cooperate with persons with disabilities in policy development and follow-up?

The rights-based approach to disability had not been mainstreamed across all sectors in Montenegro.  Persons with disabilities were discriminated against on the basis of the type of disability.  There was a mixed discourse on a medical and socially integrative approach to disability.  The number of cases of women with disabilities who had been left to their own devices was worrying.  

LÁSZLO GÁBOR LOVASZY, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Montenegro, inquired about cross-sectoral cooperation with respect to child abandonment, and a comprehensive roadmap for improving accessibility of public spaces.  There were only seven licensed sign language interpreters and no programmes of sign language at Montenegrin universities.  

Replies by the Delegation

GORAN KUSEVIJA, Director General of the Directorate for Social Welfare and Child Protection of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro, explained that Montenegro had been the least developed of the former Yugoslav republics in terms of day-care centres for children with disabilities.  Since 2009 the country had advanced considerably in that respect.  In the past three years, children below the age of three had been institutionalised only as a measure of last resort. 

Mr. Kusevija clarified that the Government was always seeking the participation of civil society and their input into policy-making and law-making.  As for the accessibility of the SOS telephone line, the service was operated by a non-governmental organization and it would soon be adjusted to the needs of persons with disabilities.  Montenegro was seeking the support of the civil society sector in the provision of social protection services.  The Government licensed them to provide such services, provided they had the necessary expertise. 

The delegation explained that considering Montenegro’s size, a lot of money was set aside for the financing of civil society organizations that provided services to persons with disabilities.  Their participation in service provision was regulated through public calls.  The sectoral analysis was currently under way in order to determine financing priorities in the area of disability.  As for the universal definition of persons with disabilities, the Government planned to align that definition in all areas. 

When drafting the initial report, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare had coordinated most of the work.  It had called representatives of all ministries to take part in the working group that was drafting the report, as well as three representatives of civil society dealing with disability.  However, civil society representatives had also decided to prepare an alternative report of their own.  Some 40 per cent of funds for non-governmental organizations were used for disability-related projects. 

Very small numbers of children and adults with disabilities were accommodated in State institutions.  Several institutions, including the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Ombudsman Office, monitored whether their needs and safety were appropriately cared for.  The Government had organised several media campaigns about the rights of persons with disabilities. 

The 2015 Anti-Discrimination Law did not contain a clear reference to reasonable accommodation, but it did stipulate fines when the principle of reasonable access was denied.  As for access to justice by persons with disabilities, the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination stipulated that it was under the purview of the judiciary and the Ombudsman.  Between 2009 and 2017 there had been no criminal proceedings for disability-based discrimination. 

There were several regulations and strategic documents that dealt with multiple forms of discrimination against women with disabilities.  The national plan for achieving gender equality focused on women with disabilities and their involvement in entrepreneurship and political life.  The Ministry for Human and Minority Rights had been continuously organising training on discrimination for different target groups.  One of the seminars was devoted to persons with disabilities, as well as specifically to women with disabilities. 

The Montenegrin health sector was designed in a way that made no distinction among citizens.  There was no systemic discrimination of persons with disabilities in healthcare.  As for healthcare for persons with mental disabilities, the Government was preparing a new law in that area and it had formed a commission on mental health.  That said enough about the Government’s commitment to regulate that area.  Every healthcare institution in the country had at least one person familiar with or trained in sign language.  Regarding the accessibility of the health care centre in Podgorica, project documentation was being prepared in order to provide access in all the buildings of the health care centre, in line with adequate accessibility standards. 

The standardisation of the Montenegrin sign language was in progress, and the Kotor Resource Centre had been licensed to provide training in sign language.  Due to the small size of the country, the transformation of the education system towards inclusive education would not be a difficult process.  In cooperation with UNICEF, the Ministry of Education was nearing the end of that process.  The Faculty of Architecture did not have a separate subject on accessibility, but in each subject did make reference to accessibility.  According to law, buildings in public use should be constructed in a way that was accessible to persons with disabilities.  A new law would clearly stipulate the inspection and monitoring of accessibility standards in not only new, but also in old buildings.  Local municipalities would enter all public buildings in a database for the purpose of their accessibility analysis. 
 
Second Round of Questions by Committee Experts

Why did the Government not include persons with disabilities through their representative organizations when deciding on the use of the national lottery?  In which way would the Government ensure that small-group homes would not become institutions? 

What was the Government doing to provide independent living schemes?  In which way would the Government increase collaboration with civil society organizations working on disability issues?

What was the Government doing to remove the guardianship laws and support decision-making regimes, as well as to ensure that persons with intellectual disabilities understood their rights in that respect?  Experts noted that the deprivation of legal capacity was inconsistent with the Convention.

Were persons with disabilities who were deprived of their legal capacity qualified to stand for trial? Were there any restrictions on persons with disabilities joining the ranks of the judiciary?      

Experts noted that segregation never worked.  How many persons with disabilities in Montenegro lived in institutions?  What was the policy on institutionalisation?               

Why was it that persons with disabilities in Montenegro did not use the available legal recourses to lodge their complaints? 

What measures had been taken to ensure that emergency information was delivered to persons with disabilities in accessible format?  What was the availability of personal assistants in Montenegro?

To what extent did Montenegro recognise the right of persons with disabilities to own property and apply for mortgages and loans?

Experts noted that the State party was using non-Convention language, such as deaf, mute and dumb, and they asked for appropriate language changes. 

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, expressed concern over the legal provision that allowed police officers to detain persons solely on the basis of suspicion of psychosocial illness.

LÁSZLO GÁBOR LOVASZY, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Montenegro, asked about safeguards for patients with disabilities in medical care, and when they could leave institutions.  Had there been any investigations of alleged abuse of persons with disabilities in the Kamenski Most centre?

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation stated that the Government recognized the importance of information technology for the general public, and especially for persons with disabilities.  Relevant ministries were working to improve access to Internet web pages and, in general, web accessibility.  Detailed guidelines had been completed for public servants and web developers with respect to document accessibility online.  The Government was aware that full online accessibility had to be ensured through training courses for public servants on the principles of accessibility. 

Kamenski Most was the only institution in the country which provided accommodation to adults or elderly with intellectual disabilities.  The average stay in that institution was 18 years and the stay was exclusively granted in line with guardianship laws.  Professionals, social workers and guardians were involved in the exercise of the legal capacity of each individual regarding their stay in the institution.  The Government was drafting normative legal protection for persons with intellectual disabilities regarding their income, property and financial affairs. 

Kamenski Most normally housed persons with severe intellectual disabilities, who had at their disposal full healthcare and social services.  In addition to various supervision and monitoring mechanisms, social inspections regularly visited Kamenski Most.  As for the alleged abuse in Kamenski Most, there was a case in March 2017 when one of the accommodated persons had been found with bruises and a bone fraction.  The guilty worker had been fired and criminal charges had been brought against him.  No institution was immune to such cases, which was why prevention was very important.  To that end, adequate education and training was provided to both expert and non-expert staff working in those institutions.

As for the full or partial removal of legal capacity of persons with disabilities, social workers would conduct an interview with the concerned person.  If it was assessed that it was not necessary to initiate the procedure for termination of legal capacity, other forms of guardianships were considered.  The guardian was obliged to annually report on his or her work.   Guardians were selected among social workers.  But the case manager could not be the guardian at the same time.

Interpreting services were provided to deaf persons, and persons with disabilities were entitled to free legal assistance.  Persons with disabilities could be judges or notaries; it was simply a matter of professional qualifications.  Unfortunately, Montenegro still did not have bank cash machines for blind persons.  As for the representation of children with disabilities in judicial proceedings, they had the right to freely express their opinion and to be heard.  With respect to the provision of information during emergencies and natural disasters to persons with disabilities in an accessible manner, it was available through media and in sign language.  

Patients with psychosocial disorders were treated in specialised hospitals, which provided narrowly defined services.  The project documentation for a new psychiatric hospital in the capital Podgorica was being prepared.  The specialised hospital at Dobrota near Kotor for persons with psychosocial disorders had the capacity of 240 places and it was fully occupied.  One of the problems in that hospital was the large number of convicted persons (up to 70 persons) who served their sentences there.  Some patients could be treated at home using the prescribed therapy, with mandatory daily visits by hospital professionals.  Other patients had to stay in the hospital because of severe disorders, such as aggressive behaviour, and such patients were involuntarily institutionalised. 

There had been an increase of 20 per cent in allowances for children with disabilities.  The right to a personal assistant was recognized under the law.  The National Employment Agency organized competitions for some 844 personal assistants whose services were subsidised by the Government.  As for small-group homes, they were available to children with disabilities who did not have their own families.  Those small-groups homes had been developed in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund.  The Government believed that such an arrangement would allow them to transition towards independent living within the community, rather than to be sent to institutions.    

Training in the use of Braille had been organised for children in kindergartens and elementary schools, as well as for teachers and educators working in those institutions.  As of 2015, the Ministry of Education had begun translating school textbooks into Braille and easy-to-read formats.  Montenegro’s library for blind persons was devoted to publishing books in formats accessible to persons with disabilities.    

As for accessibility of public transport, the delegation said that, unfortunately, current trains could not be re-adjusted in line with international standards, which was why new trains would be purchased.  In terms of road transport, all of the services were provided by the private sector, which had to adhere to the prescribed accessibility standards.   Local governments needed to determine the minimum number of taxi vehicles that adhered to accessibility standards.  In addition, public parking areas needed to have a minimum number of parking spaces for persons with disabilities.  The delegation said that ministry buildings were not fully accessible to persons with disabilities. 
 
Third Round of Questions by Committee Experts
 
Experts reminded that since 2001 there was an obligation in the European Union to provide accessible buses in municipalities.  It seemed that Montenegro was negotiating with the private sector to provide such buses, but there was no law regulating that matter.  As for public procurement, Experts observed that article 50 of Montenegro’s Law on Procurement had removed the accessibility requirement. 

In which way did the State party involve persons with disabilities in international development projects, and how was that international cooperation used to achieve some of the Sustainable Development Goals?  Was there a strategic plan for the full implementation of the Convention into domestic legislation and which kind of indicators were used to ensure that goal? 

Could persons with intellectual disabilities vote in the State party and to what extent were voting posts adapted to persons with disabilities?  Did persons with intellectual disabilities have the right to get married?  Was it true that forced sterilisation was still allowed in Montenegro?  In which way did persons with disabilities take part in the media?

Experts acknowledged the effort of the Government to establish a law on the prohibition of discrimination of persons with disabilities.  However, it was not fully in line with the Convention.  Denial of provision of any kind of reasonable accommodation was a form of discrimination and it had to be prohibited. 

Were university entry exams accessible to blind students?  Could students take such entry exams in Braille? Were sign language interpreters provided to deaf students and those with hearing impairments?  How many deaf students studied at universities?  What was the legal status of Braille? 

How many persons with disabilities were formally employed in both the private and public sector?  How were their labour rights guaranteed?  To what extent had the principle of equal pay for equal work been achieved?  Were there any penalties for the employers that failed to respect the employment quota for persons with disabilities? 

How many deaf deputies were there in the Montenegrin Parliament?  How much time in the media was dedicated to programmes for deaf persons?  What sport facilities and events were available for persons with disabilities?

How was the implementation of the strategy for inclusive education monitored?  What were the plans to support students with disabilities to advance beyond vocational training and to access university-level education? 

What measures were planned for the rehabilitation of children with disabilities from the earliest stage and according to their individual needs? 

Disability allowances were quite low in Montenegro.  What criteria was used to accord housing to persons with disabilities?

What was the level of accessibility of tourist sites in Montenegro?  Had there been any monitoring of declared accessibility by hotels?  Were there any plans to ratify and implement the Marrakesh Treaty?     

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, said that it seemed that in Montenegro the biggest challenge was the institutionalisation of persons with disabilities.  Institutionalisation per se was not in compliance with the Convention and the State party should make efforts to invest in de-institutionalisation as the best way to prevent the violation of rights.  Chemical and physical restraints appeared to be still in use in hospitals and institutions for persons with psychosocial disabilities, which could amount to torture and ill-treatment.  In addition, it seemed that persons with disabilities were often deprived of all of their rights during criminal proceedings.  The right to sexual and reproductive health services of women with disabilities was another problematic area in the State party.  Did Montenegro require technical cooperation in any fields? 

LÁSZLO GÁBOR LOVASZY, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Montenegro, asked about concrete legal obligations to increase the amount of captioning in both the private and public media.  He inquired about the accessibility of educational institutions in the country.  What legal remedies were available to persons with disabilities in the context of medical procedures and diagnosis? 

Replies of the Delegation
 
The delegation explained that each contractor had to respect accessibility standards, adding that civil society representatives had been invited to take part in the elaboration of the relevant law.  High fines had been set for the violation of accessibility standards and reasonable accommodation.  There was a very clear legal protection in that respect, as international treaties always had primacy over domestic laws.  In addition, the Government had established a committee which monitored the implementation of the strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities.    

As for discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, civil courts had prosecuted seven proceedings between 2013 and 2016, whereas six cases were pending in 2017.  The delegation noted that the provision of legal capacity of persons with disabilities would be aligned with the Convention provisions shortly.  

As a tourist destination Montenegro was working to address disability-related challenges and to regulate and adapt architecturally challenging surroundings.  A certain number of hotels did comply with accessibility standards.  Relevant guides for persons with disabilities were available online and were prepared by disability civil society organizations.  Paralympic sport was recognized in Montenegro and there were initiatives to recruit children with disabilities into sport activities from the earliest age. 

With respect to the accessibility of educational facilities, the Ministry of Education had introduced school enrolment in Braille and adaptation of textbooks, as well as the adaptation of physical infrastructure in primary and secondary schools.  In higher education, it was necessary to ensure accessibility of exams and buildings.  Inclusive education was an imperative in Montenegro, even though some children with disabilities were still referred to special institutions (resource centres) to meet their individual needs and best interest.  The Ministry of Education had organised transitional programmes to ease the passing of children from primary to secondary school.       

Montenegro had a law on the professional rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities.  As for the Fund for Professional Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities, it had at its disposal six million euros and it was used for active employment measures. 

As for the information provided to persons with intellectual disabilities, there was a possibility to access information on public administration websites in the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, and in the Albanian and English languages.  Parliament had approved additional funds to be used by civil society organizations working on disability issues.  

The Family Law stipulated that marriage was a consent-based union.  Therefore, only those persons with intellectual disabilities who did not have adequate judgment could not marry.    

GORAN KUSEVIJA, Director General of the Directorate for Social Welfare and Child Protection of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, said that the Government was considering the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty.  As for disability allowance, it amounted to 150 euros per month, in addition to 65 euros for personal care and other discounts.  In total, the figure could add up to 570 euros per month, while the minimum average salary was 190 euros.
 
Concluding Remarks

GORAN KUSEVIJA, Director General of the Directorate for Social Welfare and Child Protection of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to respond to all questions.  The Government was taking every effort to improve the lives of persons with disabilities.  For a long time, persons with disabilities had been stigmatised.  That situation was now beginning to change.  The Government would carefully consider the Committee’s recommendations and it would act accordingly.

LÁSZLO GÁBOR LOVASZY, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Montenegro,  identified significant progress in the implementation of the Convention, even though a lot remained to be done, namely with respect to the medical approach to disability.  The local level was the most important when it came to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities.  Mr. Lovaszy expressed that all relevant documents would be published and made available in the State Party in due time.

THERESIA DEGENER, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive and interactive dialogue, expressing hope that the Committee’s concluding observations would help Montenegro to better implement the Convention. 

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