[WATCH] Oliver Scicluna to head revamped commission for rights of persons with disability

National Commission for Persons with Disability to take on regulatory role, accessibility remains main priority

KNPD to address accessibility issue

The current chairperson of the National Commission for Persons with Disability (KNPD), Oliver Scicluna is set to be appointed at the helm of the revamped commission which is to be renamed  National Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability.

Speaking during the publication of the KNPD annual report and equal opportunity report, junior minister Justyne Caruana announced that Scicluna will be appointed commissioner of the new body which will take on more of a regulatory role.

“Agenzija Sapport will take on much of KNPD’s previous role in offering support and services to persons with disability, and the commission can start focusing on enforcement and regulation,” Caruana said, adding that the commission was also seeking larger premises and funding to strengthen its workforce.

The reports presented today show that the main issue remains accessibility and Scicluna said that the new commission would give priority to physical accessibility in public places.

“I hope that one day we will have the sufficient workforce to vet all the complaints we receive in the sector, as well as to carry out a number of inspections at construction sites to ensure that plans are being adhered to,” Scicluna explained.

He said that audits will be held to ensure easy accessibility to pharmacies following the completion of similar exercises carried out at the University of Malta, police stations, the Corradino Correctional Facility and social services offices in recent months.

The Annual Report for 2014/2015 reveals that the commission worked on some 327 complaints in the year, ranging from 203 pending cases from previous years and another 124 new complaints. The report therefore presents a reduction of 37 new complaints compared to last year, when the KNPD had worked on 161 new complaints. Scicluna also explained that the commission had worked on a total of 1,645 complaints in its first 15 years.

According to Scicluna the main areas of complaints had been accessibility, with 63 new ones registered during the year, the provision of services and items, with complaints amounting to 32, and the employment and education sectors, with 12 new complaints each, and a significant drop from recent years.

Caruana added that the changes to the commission were part of the changes to the Equal Opportunities act, furthering the focus against discrimination and on creating a comfortable and respectful life for people with a disability.

“Throughout the past year we worked on establishing sign language services as well as the presentation of a bill for the empowerment of people with Autism,” she said, adding that the government would continue working with KNPD to determine the needs of the public.