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Wheelchair-bound disabled for the first time wins violating the rules of barrier-free environment case

06/09/2012

For the first time in Belarus court found state owned organization (Bobruisk unitary communal branch road maintaining enterprise) guilty of violating the norms of barrier-free environment. Wheelchair bound disabled who got injured in the result of the accident got compensation for moral damage. Direct connection between the violation of barrier-free environment norms and the violation of the rights of persons with disability was found.

Bobruisk city court satisfied Matskevich’s (who is the 1st group disabled) compensation for moral damage claim to Bobruisk unitary communal branch road maintaining enterprise. Representatives of different NGOs and press were present at the hearing, but photo and video during the trial were banned. There was no ramp in the court building, but there was as incredible staircase, and Matskevich had to use the help of militiaman to go upstairs. 

The hearing had lasted for about two hours. During the hearing the defendant gave rather weird, from the point of view of the law, arguments: “The claimant should have found another way, he had an opportunity to walk 100 more meters and cross the road at pedestrian crossing. He should have called for a road militiaman and an employee of the road department to measure the height of the curb. And the fact that he had chosen his own way to cross the street means that he had broken traffic rules”. But at the same time the defendant admitted the fact that the pedestrian crossing doesn’t correspond with the technical norms.

The claimant said: “A person has the right to consider that all the roads correspond with the norms”. “How can a person estimate the height of a curb without using instruments?”. “A person has the right to consider that the legislation is fully observed”. The defendant answered: “To rely on the state and on your own possibilities these are two different things. You had to get back 100 meters and cross the street in a safe place”. This answer shows very good the attitude of some people to the rights of persons with disabilities. 

It took the judge 30 minutes to make the decision. The judge satisfied the claim and ruled to recover 2 million rubles for moral damages and 3 million for legal expenses. She also ordered to eliminate the violations in accordance with the norms of barrier-free environment. 

Sergey Drozdovskiy the coordinator of the “Office for the rights of persons with disabilities” comments on the situation: “It is a very important fact for the Office that a person with disability managed to protect his rights in court. It is also important, because the appeal to justice for the protection of the rights is a very rare occurrence for a person with disability. And this is not normal situation in the society when people do not believe in justice. That is why we are very glad with the results of the hearing and hope that in the future it will be not such a rare case when court protects the rights of persons with disabilities”. 

We remind that in June 2012 Sergey Matskevich, 1st group disabled, appealed to the Office against the violation of the norm of barrier-free environment. After he had consulted with Offices jurists he filed a claim for compensating for moral damages. 

On August 14 preliminary hearing of the case took place. On August 23 the final hearing was held and Matskevich’s claim was satisfied, 

You can ask your questions about the case to the press-secretary of the Office Taisia Pastuchova. (+375 25 9717179, e-mail:[email protected]).