In 2022, the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) received a total of 694 requests for investigation, an increase of 11% compared to 2021. Of these, 301 reports were related to lack of accessibility, 208 reports on alleged misuse or abuse of Blue Badge and 88 reports related to educational services provided by the state, the Church and the private sector.
It should be noted that a considerable reduction was recorded in the reports linked to the areas of Employment and Housing (-33% and -38% respectively). These figures came from the annual report of the CRPD for the year 2022, which was presented to the Minister for Inclusion, Volunteering and Consumer Rights, Julia Farrugia Portelli, by the Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Samantha Pace Gasan.
The Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is the national regulatory body on equality for the disability sector in Malta and Gozo. Minister Farrugia Portelli said that during 2022, the enforcement unit within the CRPD collected 171 illegal Blue Badges and confiscated 110 fake Blue Badges. She pointed out that work is currently underway on the amendments to the Blue Badge law, where, among others, enforcement will be strengthened by extending enforcement powers and introducing new crimes, especially linked to the forgery of Blue Badges. The minister thanked all the workers within the commission for their work in favor of a stronger disability sector.
Commissioner Samantha Pace Gasan gave an extensive overview of the commission’s work during 2022. By the end of December 2022 there were 23,400 people with disabilities registered with the CRPD. It explained that 2,128 planning applications were evaluated, an increase of 14% compared to 2021. The commission approved 1,168 applications while issuing objections to 960 applications. More than 200 site inspections were also carried out.
In 2022, training sessions on Disability Equality were held for 2,250 participants from various public and private entities in Malta and Gozo, a notable increase compared to the 1,488 participants in the previous year. A total of 4,223 EU cards were also issued, of which 672 were renewed. The commission was a partner in six EU projects related to disability. 2022 was the first year of the implementation of the commission’s three-year strategy (2022–2024). In addition to the main work currently underway, the CRPD has also focused on proactive strategic priorities that will result in the growth of the disability sector in the coming years.
“The time has come for subjects such as intersectionality, deinstitutionalisation and digital innovation to become part of the discussion on disability because they provide new opportunities for the growth of the sector,” emphasized Commissioner Pace Gasan. She went on to explain that she is carrying out a research study on deinstitutionalization that will consolidate the capacity of the CRPD to contribute to the design of policy in the field of deinstitutionalization of persons with disabilities.