WHO pushes for legislation on rights of the disabled

People with disabilities form almost 15pc of Pakistan’s population but their rights find no mention in Constitution. -AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: People with disabilities form almost 15 per cent of Pakistan’s population but their rights find no mention in the Constitution.

Even the ordinance promulgated in 1981 to provide them employment has hardly been implemented. However, the situation is likely to change.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights, organised the first federal consultative meeting on compiling the Country Report for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and preparing a Federal Disability Bill.

Technical Adviser of WHO on Disabilities and Rehabilitation Dr Maryam Mallick told Dawn that Pakistan signed the convention in 2011 but “did not submit a single report about the status of its disabled persons” that the convention obliges to file every year.

Similarly, the 1981 Ordinance laid down a quota for the disabled in the job market and their rehabilitation but is silent on their wider rights.

“Even government departments are not implementing the ordinance. They escape punishment for not following the law by paying just Rs2,500 per year as fine,” she said.

“India made a law in 1995 for taking care of its citizens with disabilities and revised it in compliance with the UN convention after India ratified the convention in 2010,” said the WHO adviser.

Ms Malik said that WHO decided to assist provincial and federal government in framing legislation to ensure rights of people with disabilities and in preparing the mandatory annual report for the UN.

Country Director WHO Dr Michel Thieren said addressing Wednesday’s meeting that WHO will continue its efforts towards resolving the issues of the disabled. It was for the first time that representatives of government departments, NGOs and other stakeholders could give their inputs and feedback in an interactive session.

Director General Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights Hassan Mangi assured that his ministry would submit the first country report under UNCRPD to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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