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30 Jun, 2017

ASEAN to further empower persons with disabilities

PHUKET, 23 June 2017 (ASEAN media release) – The 3rd ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Regional Dialogue on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community was held on 19-21 June 2017 in Phuket, Thailand. The dialogue focused on the issues pertaining to access to justice, persons with disabilities as entrepreneurs and disability perspective in disaster risk management.

The participants shared their experiences and challenges relevant to the three focus areas. They also provided their views to the proposed regional action plan, which is currently being drafted by the Task Force on the Mainstreaming of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community. In the context of access to justice, it was highlighted that there is a need to empower persons with disabilities to ensure that they are aware of their rights.

Monthian Bunthan, a member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, highlighted the importance of having accessibility impact assessment for businesses in ASEAN to ensure inclusivity of persons with disabilities. The participants highlighted that the rights of persons of disabilities to work, employment and to start a business is guaranteed under article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the latest international human rights instrument to be ratified by all ASEAN Member States. However, social stigma surrounding persons with disabilities adds barriers to the realisation of their right. Moreover, the lack of access to infrastructure, information and transportation hinders persons with disabilities from becoming contributing members of the economy through entrepreneurship.

It was also  emphasised that knowledge on disaster preparedness should be adequately shared to persons with disabilities including to children with disabilities. Participation of persons with disabilities in policy-making processes was highlighted as the key point in ensuring the mainstreaming and full implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities.

The event was attended by the AICHR and various relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, including ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting, ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management, Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children; National Human Rights Institutions, Disabled People’s Organisations; and experts from regional and international organisations.

Supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and Australian Aid, the dialogue was organised by Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, the Representative of Thailand to the AICHR in collaboration with various agencies in Thailand, including the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, the Administrative Court, the Social Security Office, the National Science and Technology Development Agency, as well as the General Election Network for Disability Access and the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability.