The adoption of the State Pension Act remains a top priority.
26 April 2021
RA Ombudsman’s office received a number of complaints from citizens regarding the violation of their right to a decent standard of living.
According to art. 1 of the RA Law «On the increase in pensions for individual categories of pensioners in the Republic of Abkhazia», the basic retirement benefit was 500 rubles per month.
By resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 1 of 27.01.2020, the established amount of monthly pension was increased by a supplement of 2000 rubbles for citizens of the Republic, who do not receive benefits from a foreign state. Thus, today senior citizens receive 2,500 rubles from the State monthly.
A retiring allowance of 2,500 roubles is not sufficient to pay for the essentials, including medical supplies, home, food, and bills. It is obvious that with a pension of 2500 rubles people are forced to live under hopeless conditions.
The number of pensioners in the Republic, currently receiving state benefits in the amount of 2500 rubles is 3,951. Since the pension together with the monthly supplement is only 33.78% of the established for 2021 subsistence minimum, people in retirement are unable to support themselves.
The retirement income in RA does not support older people to meet their basic needs, which constitutes a gross violation of human rights.
According to Article 11 of the RA Constitution, the Republic of Abkhazia recognizes and guarantees the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), in the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, on Civil and Political Rights, and other generally recognized international legal acts. The Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) articulates the right to adequate health in Article 25: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care…”. Article 12 of the UN Principles for Older Persons (hereinafter referred to as the Principles) states that older persons should have access to social and legal services to enhance their autonomy, protection and care.
The current income situation for people in retirement is dire. Urgent action is needed to protect the rights of people who receive only Abkhazian benefits.
Considering that the state is obliged to ensure the right to an adequate standard of living, the Commissioner for Human Rights, Asida Shakryl, appealed to the Prime Minister Alexander Ankvab with a proposal to take urgent measures aimed at enhancing social security.
According to Shakryl, the adoption of the State Pension Act is a top priority.
Taking into account the incomprehensible approach demonstrated by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, the Commissioner recommended as a matter of urgency to:
1. Review the existing social security policies that allow thousands of people to remain below the poverty line.
2. Establish social protection systems to ensure basic income security for elderly citizens.
3. Develop and implement effective policies and strategies to protect the rights of senior citizens in accordance with the principle of equality and non-discrimination. In particular, develop a number of laws, regulations and policies to support social security, health care and other aspects of the life of people in retirement.
4. Provide in the State budget monthly pension supplement for citizens who do not receive a foreign state pension.
5. To work together with the Ministry of Public Health in order to develop a plan that would ensure access to free medical care for the elderly citizens, which is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commissioner noted that the State is obliged to establish social protection systems that would be consistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia and International Standards and Principles.