Human rights are by all means a constitutional category in the Republic of Slovenia. In the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia (Official Journal of RS, No. 33/1991) Article 14 of Chapter 2 (Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) lays down that to everyone are ensured equal human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, in this Article the Constitution does not explicitly list disability as one of the prohibited grounds for discrimination.It is to emphasize, that individual rights based on the principle of equality, are presented in particular in Article 52, which deals with disabled people and specifies that pursuant to the law disabled people are guaranteed protection and training for work.
In spite of the fact that the general category in Article 14 of the Slovene Constitution (any other circumstance) can be the basis for the assumption that equal human rights and fundamental freedoms are ensured to everyone - therefore also to disabled people - it is necessary to create a constitutional base for appropriate measures which would enable disabled people to be fully and equally incorporated in the Slovenian state.
In year 2001 Federation of Disabled Workers of Slovenia sends to the Council of Disabled People's Organizations of Slovenia proposal to amend Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia explicit with 'disability' as non-discrimination clause. The proposal was accepted by the Council of Disabled People's Organizations of Slovenia and the campaign began.
Our campaign got a strong support from Bengt Lindqvist , former Special Rapporteur on Disability of the UN Commission for Social Development. He supported us in his lecture in the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia (November 13, 2002). The next important contribution was given by support letters by Yannis Vardakastanis, EDF President and Marija Lidija Stiglic, FIMITIC President. However, we are especially grateful to Stefan Trõmel, EDF Director, who has brilliantly argumented the significance of including 'disability' into constitution. His argument was explained at the Slovene parliament reception where mr. Borut Pahor, president of the Slovene National Assembly and mr. Janez Sušnik, president of the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia were present. AT a TV show, broadcasted by Slovene national television Stefan later also appealed to Slovene audience to be aware of the significance of our efforts.
After lobbying, a group of Parliamentary 41 delegates put the proposal into parliamentary procedure to start proceeding of the changes of the Constitution (2001, 21 of December). Parliamentary Constitutional Commission organizes public presentation of the proposal. On session of the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission in May 2003 the proposal does not pass. With lobbying and additional EDF support of the campaign for a reference to disability in article 14 of the Slovenian constitution in November 2003, we succeed to achieve second public presentation of the proposal in the Commission. Then after Commission voted again in December about the proposal, and this time the decision was taken to lay proposal to change of the article 14 into parliamentarian proceeding. The qualified majority of Slovenian MPs supported in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia the proposal to amend 'disability' into Article 14 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Commission (10. December 2003) accepted statement on adding 'disability' into article 14. On the extraordinary Session of the National Assembly in April 2004 there was voting on proposal again and qualified majority of Slovenian MPs supported the inclusion 'disability' into Article 14. Next step is of Constitutional Commission to formulate the final text of the Article 14, and then, we do hope, the qualified majority of Slovenian MPs will vote again in favour of the supplemented Article 14 with 'disability'.
At the Session of the National Assembly in April 2004 a qualified majority of Slovenian MP's supported the inclusion of 'disability' into Article 14 of Slovene Constitution. After the second voting the decision was taken to lay proposal into parliamentarian proceeding. The Constitutional Commission formulated the final text of the Article 14. Final voting in Parliament was on Wednesday June 16, 2004. The Constitutional Law on Article 14 was accepted by voting with 70 PM's votes in favour and one vote against.
The decree that proclaims the Constitutional Law on change of Article 14 of the Slovene Constitution was accepted by 67 PM's votes from quorum of 69 PM's on June 23rd, 2004. It is a historic moment for people with disabilities in Slovenia. The Slovene constitution needs to have more laws implemented in the future so that people with disabilities become citizens with equal rights. The decree is a basis and a compass for these future implementation.
We are happy to inform all FIMITIC members that the campaign has been finished; our lobbying to include disability into Slovene Constitution was successful and thus our efforts have laboured fruit! It is a great, important and symbolic victory for disabled people in Slovenia.
Marjan KrofliÄ, Federation of Disabled Workers of Slovenia