Work with NGOs to improve disability rights, gov’t told
WITH Brunei’s recent ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, government should work closely with NGOs to ensure any national policies sufficiently advance the rights of persons with special needs, said a board member for Pusat Ehsan.
Hj Ahmad Hj Abdul Rahman, head of policy and planning at Pusat Ehsan, said the convention was an “important tool” to advocate for disability rights in the sultanate.
“When the government signed the convention, it means the government now has to comply with international standards. Pusat Ehsan wants to be the agent for advocacy for certain rights and access persons with disabilities should have under the convention.”
He suggested the State should use NGOs as a platform to engage with the special needs community, to solicit feedback on where national laws are lacking, and to see how the government can improve the day-to-day challenges faced by people with disabilities.
“We have a target to work towards which is an international standard. For me, Brunei should have no difficulty to achieve this target. We should aim to exceed the minimum standards set by the convention.”
When Brunei ratified the UN convention in April – eight years after it signed it – disability rights advocates welcomed the move, saying it would pave the way for more inclusive government policies that ensure persons with disabilities can participate as equal members of society.
By signing the treaty, the sultanate must ensure it has national laws in place that promises persons with disabilities equal access to employment and education, as well as address access to finance, infrastructure, health, recreation and sports facilities.
The Special Committee on Persons with Disabilities and the Elderly has promised to formulate policies that promote the full participation of persons with disabilities in society, such as additional funding and support for special needs learning in schools; handicapped access for public buildings; and micro-credit financing.
“We’re trying to bring rights of people with disabilities into the mainstream,” said Hj Ahmad. “Awareness is now increasing and more people are contributing to the cause.”
The Brunei Times