Anti-discrimination Coalition teaches the Disabled to fight for their rights


On 12 January 2013 Ukraine’s Prime Minister instructed the Health Ministry together with the Minister for Regional Development to draw up amendments to the conditions for licensing chemists, as well as medical establishments so as to ensure access for people with disabilities. This time the licensing requirements with regard to the technical conditions for medical establishments must be unequivocal, well-thought-out and mandatory,

The reason for this instruction was the ruling of the Dnipropetrovsk Court of Appeal on 11 December 2012 regarding the suit brought by Dmytro Zhariy who uses a wheelchair to move around.  He was unable to get to the local chemist in order to buy the medication he needs because of a badly placed ramp. The court ordered the State Medication Administration to look into cancelling the given chemist’s licence for selling medicines in accordance with the Law on Licensing Certain Forms of Economic Activity.

Dmytro Zhariy once attended a training course on strategic litigations on fighting discrimination organized by the Civic Alternative NGO with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation’s Rule of Law project. It was then that he got the idea of trying via the courts to change the degrading practice in some chemists of putting in ramps purely to meet formal requirements and in that way depriving people with restricted mobility of access.

“This problem does not only concern me, It affects all people with disabilities in Ukraine and is not confined to chemists alone. I therefore decided to create a precedent which could demonstrate that a disabled person can uphold his or her rights in court. Since I’m a defence lawyer, I don’t just know my rights. I do all the work myself and make all the payments myself. In the claim I deliberately didn’t mention any monetary compensation for the moral damages so that nobody would have grounds for accusing me of doing this with venal motives”, Dmytro Zhariy explains.

On 4 October 2011 the Law on Principles for Preventing and Countering Discrimination in Ukraine came into force. This not only prohibits discrimination, including against people with disabilities, but also established the government’s duty to apply positive action: “special temporary or permanent measures aimed at removing legal or actual inequality in opportunities for people and / or groups to enjoy equal rights and freedoms enshrined in Ukraine’s Constitution and laws.

Unfortunately, further amendments to legislation needed for effective implementation of the law are still being drawn up by public bodies. The Coalition for Countering Discrimination in Ukraine hopes that the Cabinet of Ministers’ initiative regarding amendments to the conditions for issuing licences to chemists, as well as medical establishments, ensuring free access for people with limited mobility will not be the last move aimed at real measures to counter discrimination.

Press Service of the Coalition for Countering Discrimination 

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