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Venue:Ambassador Hotel, Lahore
Date:June 23, 2014

Comprehensive Legal Framework for Persons with Disabilities

On 23 June 2014, a Provincial Consultation meeting entitled “Comprehensive Legal Framework for Persons with Disabilities” was organized by the Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM), Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID Network) and Milestone Society for the Special Persons. The consultation meeting was chaired by Mrs. Kaneez Ishaq (MPA) and Mrs. Suraiya Naseem (MPA), and was attended by 28 participants including; parliamentarians, govt. officials, and representatives of civil society organizations. At this juncture, the disability rights activists gave recommendations to the parliamentarians and government officials for reforms in disability legal framework. The government must introduce comprehensive legislation and polices in line with universally recognized disability standards to protect rights of persons with disabilities. This was articulated by the renowned promoters of the disability rights from the Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad during the provincial consultation.

 Speaking on this significant occasion, MPA Surraiya Naseem said, “Persons with Disabilities are human beings with capabilities, and they are proving their abilities in all fields of life.” “The government is dedicated to improve the situation of persons with disabilities. Even the parliamentarians are committed to work for their progress, and will discuss the disability rights bill on the platform of women caucus,” she added.

The National Coordinator of the CBID Network Pakistan, Dr. Shahnawaz Manumi said, “Persons with disabilities face hurdles and discrimination due to neglected and ignorant behavior of the society towards them. Most of the barriers are man-made, which create hurdles in the way of PWDs.” “The govt. must play its vital role to mainstream the persons with disabilities by revising existing strategies, policies and legislation in order to make them conformity with international disability standards and instruments,” he added.

 

 

The program director of AWAM, Naseem Anthony said, “It is sad that the only disability legislation ‘Employment and Rehabilitation Ordinance for Disabled People 1981’ have never been reviewed during last 33 years, causing hurdles rather than benefits for persons with disabilities.” “Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), therefore the government must set up an independent and autonomous national institution to implement and monitor the UNCRPD in a true sense, and introduce a comprehensive and unequivocal national legislation in accordance with UNCRPD to protect them from all forms of neglect, abuse and exploitation,” he adde.The Secretary Provincial Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled People (PCRDP) & Director Program-Social Welfar, Hafiz M. Akram said, “We are reviewing the policies to reduce the hurdles and barriers facing persons with disabilities. We are committed to redesign the policies by engaging persons with disabilities and organizations working on disability issues, in the consultative process. We will soon introduce disability friendly policies, which will directly benefit them.”

The President of Milestone Society of Special Persons, Shafique ur Rehman said, “The government must build favourable environment for ensuring easy access of people with disabilities to public transportation, buildings and places based on universally accepted disability standards, and for the removal of barriers that prevent a person with disability from participating in an activity or receiving services on an equal basis with others. All concerned offices must be accessible and established on ground floor in order to avoid sufferings faced by persons with disabilities during passing through stairs instead of ramp or elevator, whereas at least one toilet/washroom in all concerned offices must be reserved, easily accessible and useable for persons with disabilities.”A disability rights activist, Shazia George said, “The existing disability legislation and policies do not cater to the needs and uncountable problems of women with disabilities, therefore the government must integrate disability registration process into one-window operation keeping in view the difficulty facing women with disabilities in mobility and accessibility. Besides, the social welfare department must issue disability registration certificate of unique format rather than different formats for each district, in order to make it valid and acceptable in all parts of the country.”

 

 

A social worker, Dr. Yasmeen Ehsan said, “The majority of persons with disabilities face unemployment, therefore the government must enhance reserved quota in education and employment for persons with disabilities in accordance with their total share in the total population of Pakistan, and bound all public and private institutions strictly to enforce quota by recruiting eligible persons with disabilities on the reserved seats, and take firm action against elements violating the quota and accommodating non-disabled persons in place of disabled persons.”The coordinator of CBID Network Pakistan, Mian Asim Zafar said, “A simple mechanism must be introduced for persons with disabilities to avail reserved benefits and facilities easily. The Disabled Rehabilitation Training Committee (DRTC) must be made functional, and funds must be used honestly for the welfare of disability community.”

 

The other government officials include; Saima Manzoor (Assistant Administrator) and Muhammad Naeem Bhatti (Assistant Administrator) and other representatives of NGOs include; Nazia Sardar, Rana Yasir, Irfan Miraj, Javed Pasha and Farooq Raza were among the dignitaries of the meeting.