National policy on disability rights required

… prior to ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recommends High Level Task Force

Convention: One of the suggestions the stakeholder agencies of the High Level Task Force, established to study and prepare for ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, made during its first meeting yesterday was to have a national policy or an act in place before the country can ratify the convention.

Foreign minister Damcho Dorji said that before ratifying the convention, it is important for the stakeholder agencies to have an overview of the convention so that the stakeholders know what it is and what the roles of the respective agencies will be as per the provisions of the convention.

The first article of the convention states that the purpose of the convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities.

The fifty articles of the convention includes freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information; equality and non-discrimination, awareness-raising, accessibility, and right to life; among others.

Lyonpo Damcho Dorji explained that all the articles in the convention are important because persons with disabilities are vulnerable to many abuses, which will affect their lives.

“It is important to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to opportunities and lead a normal life as far as possible,” Lyonpo said. “They should be given freedom of expression and opinion because unless we hear from them, we will not know what facilities they need.”

Lyonpo also pointed out that it is not exactly known how many people in the country are physically challenged and what facilities are provided to them.

Chief programme officer with the National Commission for Women and Children, Chhoeki Penjor, said that the provisions mentioned in the convention on women and children, are already in place  in the country. However, there is much to do at a policy level or providing infrastructure facilities for persons with disabilities, before the ratification.

Lack of physical infrastructure, weak coordination among the stakeholders, lack of specialised or trained people to deal with persons with disabilities, among others, were some of the challenges discussed during the meeting.

The 15th special session of the Lhengye Zhungtshog held on April 20 this year decided to defer ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

However, the foreign ministry was directed to coordinate with relevant agencies and prepare a comprehensive paper for ratification of the convention by Parliament in future.

The high level task force, which will be guided by the Rules of Procedure for Treaty Making 2016, involves members from eighteen national stakeholder agencies including civil society.

Bhutan signed the convention on September 21, 2010.

Dechen Tshomo

1 reply
  1. PemaCl
    PemaCl says:

    Certainly the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities is due for ratification in Bhutan. I feel only through the ratification of the convention that the rights, access, non-discriminations, opportunity equity in employment, social participation and in decision-making for persons with disabilities can be addressed adequately in all nations. A number of conventions and rights have been ratified by Bhutan such as for gender equity, child’s right, woman’s right, youth action, and others but have not received much attention on disability rights although at least 10%-15% of the population could be assessed of inflicted by disabilities in the country if a comprehensive study was conducted. I feel that the Net Enrolment Rate of children into schools would be only at 95%-97% if not adjusted and the remaining 3%-5% left behind are the children with disabilities living in different pockets of the country. There may be some highlights on disability issues in already existing policies or conventions (like in Convention for Women and Children) but they do not get prioritized in action with the principle of “attending to Organization’s main purpose .. ..” mostly. The Government is indeed taking a right decision and move towards the ratification of UNCRPD and persons with disabilities in Bhutan earnestly appeal the government to consider ratifying the Convention at the earliest please. If it is conceptualized as ‘too early’ to ratify as expressed by few, that ‘too early’ will never come to a “proper time” and in the midst, several children/persons with disabilities will lose their lives, opportunities and meaningful living in the society, always wishing for a better life just as the other individuals so termed as ‘normal people.’ It is only through the Convention that Their Majesties’ vision of GNH and socio-economic equity for disabilities can be realized in Bhutan.

    Expressed by Pema Chhogyel.

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