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Why Does the Disabled Community Talk About Rights?

Daniel Collinge

UN Office High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) Thailand

The international regulation of human rights has been around since the birth of the universal declaration of human rights.

Rights were then introduced into certain fields. For example: economic, social and cultural rights Likewise, the rights of certain groups took form: children’s rights, women’s rights and dis­abled’s rights.

The rights-based approach means that when developing policy in certain fields, policymakers need to consult groups who will be impacted by that policy. With this approach, policy better fulfills the needs of the people.

Those impacted should also be involved in implementing, moni­toring and evaluating that policy. To measure the success of imple­mentation, indicators should be developed together.

Advocacy is needed when a group impacted by policy is left out of making, implementing and evaluating the policy.

Mega Irena

Assistant Director of Social Welfare, Women, Labour and Migrant Workers, ASEAN Social & Culture Committee – ASEAN Secretariat

ASEAN aims at forming the ASEAN Community in 2015 that will in­volve all ASEAN people in the multilateral cooperation. ASEAN will not only a form of collaboration among the governments. The cooperation among ASEAN people will also include some fields, such as human rights, economy, social, and culture.

The aspiration of disabled groups in ASEAN countries has already been heard today, since the dis­abled people are indeed a part of ASEAN people. The discussion on ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) in the high level meetings is such a progress. Although in the coop­eration structure, the disabled group is included in the social welfare category, not human rights.

The disabled people in ASEAN countries should get access to justice, including the political right fulfillment. The challenge faced by them is how to make it a reality. One of the challenges is the different forms of state and government among ASEAN countries; kingdom, presidential republic, and socialist-commu­nist. It has impact on the different democracy processes.

Hang Puthea

Committee for Free and Fair Elec­tion in Cambodia (NICFEC)

In the era of the Khmer Rouge regime, they persons with dis­abilities were negatively im­pacted. They were uneducated, scared and had to stay home. Entering the era of democracy, it takes a serious effort to educate them. This includes education in general politics, including voter education. Cambodia expects support from the international and regional community in this endeavor.

 

BRAVO for Disabilities

In the Pullman Hotel area, some adolescents, boys and girls in red vest were assisting disabled persons and facilitating the meeting process. They were friends from Bravo for Disabilities.

Bravo is an organization of volunteersimages conference news bravo red disabilities that supports disabled persons and advocates on disabilities issue. The members are students from various universities in Jakarta, with most students studying special education.

At the beginning, they often met during activities focused on addressing issue for persons with disabilities. With a spirit of service, they agreed to establish Bravo for Disabilities on February 27, 2005.

The main service provided by Bravo is volunteers they send to any event on disability issue. “We support any event held by our disabled friends,” said Azis, General Coordinator of Bravo.

Bravo’s involvement usually depends on the organizing committee or organization. Some of them entrust the working mechanism to Bravo by giving the group an explanation about the event. Some organizations give specific jobs the volunteers can help with.

The total number of adolescents in Bravo today is about 160. Bravo makes its presence known at almost every on disability issues in Jakarta. In the conference at Pullman Hotel, Bravo assigned nine volunteers (five boys and four girls) led by Ikhsan Imamuddin, the Volunteer Division Coordinator of Bravo. Ikhsan is Special Education teacher candidate. The Bravo mission may become an inspiration to other adolescents in any country.

KAMPI

KAMPI is a federation of person with disabilities organization in Philippines. As national institution, KAMPI exists in all provinces in the Philippines. It is currently led by Josephine De Vera, a mobility-disabled woman.

This federation is focused on activity in the areas of advocacy, including political rights advocacy for persons with disabilities. In an effort to fulfill the rights of persons with disabilities, KAMPI realizes the importance of accurate data on the number of persons with disabilities.

One of the creativities done by this organization is working together with SM Mall, which has retail networks in all provinces in the Philippines. Data collection, with no objection form the management of the SM Mall, was carried out in its retail locations.

By having accurate data in each province, KAMPI can more easily convey the needs of its members to participate in election for the provincial Election Commission. KAMPI educates its members and persons with disabilities on political processes through various forums.

Hadar N. Gumay

Director of Centre for electoral Reform (CETRO), Indonesia.

From this conference, we can learn from each other and exchange thoughts with representatives from other countries how election processes take place in their country. It is in the best interest of persons with disabilities when we all work together to find solutions.

Indonesia is not the worst when compared to other ASEAN countries in election processes. We can take part in continuing to improve implementation of these processes. Additionally, we can take examples from many ASEAN countries that are starting to recognize and address the political rights of persons with disabilities.

The issue of access for persons with disabilities is still at the top of the list. Government agencies and organizations that directly work with persons with disabilities must work together to address the issues of access. The government, itself, should also take steps to diminish any discrimination faced by persons with disabilities.

Nguyen Hong Ha

Accessibility in election is important, because it is important to each and every citizen. A change in policy about accessibility in election is welcome, but implementation is the most important. The words in a policy provide a framework, but it is our actions which support the policy and determine how the policy will work and be implemented. The only solution is to involve persons with disabilities when formulating in policy because only persons with disabilities can effectively convey what is best for them. The government and policymakers should involve persons with disabilities people in making a safe and accessible environment.

Thailand and Malaysia are countries in Southeast Asia that have already applied independent living for persons with disabilities, so they can make their own decisions and take their own options. This conference is helpful because it shows us how accessible elections for persons with disabilities should be. But it is not enough. We still need a lot of improvement. These are good examples for other Asian countries. Hopefully, it can be implemented.

One idea could be to use an actor or actress so the meeting can function as a bridge between the disabled community and government. People should listen to and work with persons with disabilities to mainstream inclusion of person with disabilities. That is the only solution.

Rene V. Sarmiento

Professor of Human Rights Law and Constitutional Law at The Polytechnic University of The Philippines, College of Law

There should be a regional network of all participating countries in Southeast Asia, institutions and organizations that address disability issues so a mutually beneficial and collaborative working environment is created which facilitates in formation exchange. There also should be a training on what an accessible election is for persons with disabilities. All related parties should immediately produce Braille-lettered ballots for the blind, a deaf-friendly tool for the deaf and ramps for voters who use wheel-chairs. To facilitate and accessible election, all location should be on the ground level of a building. There should be serious effort from the election commissions to address these concerns in a timely fashion.

In the short term, there should be a follow-up to this conference to ensure all policies are implemented. We should keep supporting activities of NGOs on disability issues so our discourse and hopes for increased access for persons with disabilities can be achieved soon.

This news is produced by Diffa, the first and only magazine focusing on disability issues.diffa logo

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