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"Persons with Disabilities in Portugal – Human Rights Indicators 2019"

Capa do Relatório 2019 Capa do Relatório 2019

The Disability and Human Rights Observatory assesses the impact of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Portugal

2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the homologation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by Portugal. But ten years on, what was the impact of the Convention on our country? The Disability and Human Rights Observatory (ODDH) carried out this analysis, as part of the "Persons with Disabilities in Portugal – Human Rights Indicators 2019" report, presented publicly on December 13, 2019, during the IV ODDH Meeting – Disability, Public Policies and Human Rights, hosted by ISCSP – Universidade de Lisboa.

The results of the report suggest that, during the last decade, there was "a picture of positive global change" in structural areas such as education, employment, social protection and discrimination. However, it also sets out an alert: there are "areas where progress has been weak or even non-existent", identifying aspects for improvement.

Regarding education, data between 2010/11 and 2017/18 shows that despite there was an overall increase in participation, a lack of resources been reported, meaning, there was a registered increase of 92% of students with disabilities attending mainstream schools and of 40% registered in post-secondary institutions. Despite this positive trend, the number of specialized staff in mainstream schools only increased by 8%, while the support services to tertiary education students remained nearly unaffected.

Regarding vocational training, between 2009 and 2018, the number of beneficiaries of specific vocational training, traineeships and employment support measures almost doubled, from 17 103 in 2009 to 32 452 in 2018. Nevertheless, during that same period, the budget spent shows a decrease of 59% (of €78 780 225,05 to €32 412 381,49). The data shows increasing demand of the Institute for Vocational Training and Employment (IEFP) services for labour market qualifications. However, this is one of the areas where the most significant difficulties continue to persist.

Regarding employment and labour market areas, between 2009 and 2018, the number of persons with disabilities registered as unemployed at the IEFP Employment Centres increased by 41% (in 2009 there were 8 622, and in 2018 were 12 135), while the unemployment for the overall population decreased by 38%.

Long-term unemployment has long been the most typical type of unemployment amongst persons with disabilities, until 2017/2018, when the trend started to reverse. However, between 2009 and 2018, it could be said that Portugal was in a good track regarding the employment of persons with disabilities: the number of persons with disabilities who accessed jobs as registered by the IEFP reported an increase of 142%.

The number of persons with disabilities working in the public and private sectors has slightly increased. In the public sector, between 2012 and 2018, workers with disabilities have grown by 43% (from 12 320 in 2012 to 17 607 in 2018), representing, in 2018, 2,58% of the total workforce of Public Administration, remaining however below the 5% quota stipulated since 2001 for this sector.

In the private sector, between 2012 and 2017, workers with disabilities have registered an increase of 48% in companies with more than ten employees (in 2012 were 7 874 and in 2017 were 11 657), representing, in 2017, 0,52% of the sector's total workforce. This evolution, however, concerns mostly workers with disabilities with a moderated level of incapacity (≥ 60% < 80%), which represented, in 2017, 71,48% of persons with disabilities in the private sector.

Nonetheless, the increase in the number of people covered by the measure "Adaptação de Postos de Trabalho e Eliminação de Barreiras Arquitetónicas" – which aims to facilitate the professional integration of persons with disabilities - shows severe flaws in its implementation: between 2011 and 2018, this measure never provided workplace adaptations and elimination of architectural barriers for more than ten people per year, revealing an inability to fulfill its mission.

Regarding social protection, the recent introduction of new benefits and social responses (Prestação Social para a Inclusão – PSI; Independent Living Support Model - MAVI), more in line with a human rights perspective, shows a positive reinforcement. Nonetheless, more conventional social responses, such as the Occupational Activity Centres (CAOs) and Residential Homes registered growth trends, both in terms of available equipment and the number of vacancies.

Despite being a fundamental domain for the autonomy and inclusion of persons with disabilities, the evolution of the annual budget registered a sharp drop on the Support Products Assignment System between 2009 and 2012, most likely due to the financial crisis that stoke the country during that time.

Lastly, the report also demonstrates that between 2009 and 2018, the complaints about disability-based discrimination rose 1 937%, from 41 to 835 complaints. This seems to reflect a greater awareness by persons with disabilities and their peers regarding their rights and the legal available mechanisms.

By November 23, 2023, the Portuguese State should submit to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities its next report about the implementation of the CDPD in Portugal. The issues listed in this report already present some of the challenges that Portugal still faces regarding the human rights of persons with disabilities and which will be essential to achieve by 2023.

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