People with disabilities express their needs to Nepal’s decision makersSep 13, 2016
Dhanusha - In Nepal, people with disabilities often feel excluded from many areas of daily life. Accessing government services is one area in which they feel limited and their rights overlooked.
“We have been hearing special facilities to be provided to disabled persons in public facilities like transportation, education, health, etc. from long time back but unfortunately, neither are we provided with such facilities nor treated with dignity,” said Rishi Kumang Sing from a disability organization based in Siraha district. “Due to disable-unfriendly government offices, we are even unable to visit the CDO to lodge complains."
But given the opportunity, people with disabilities play a vital role in telling decision-makers what they need and how to provide it. During a face-to-face meeting in Janakpur between people with disabilities and lawmakers, this often overlooked group of people were able to voice their opinions on a recently-tabled Disability Bill.
The interaction was organized by the Women, Children, Senior Citizen and Social Welfare Committee of the Legislature Parliament and UNDP's Parliament Support Project with over 45 participants from eight districts actively raising their concerns with the parliamentarians.
Satrughan Lal Karna, Chairperson of Disable Society demanded that the proposed bill be revisited in view of the accountability framework for effective implementation. "The bill lacks clear provisions on punishment and departmental action to the public officials if they do not effectively implement the provision," he said.
The new Bill proposes a comprehensive definition of disability, different categories of disability, provision of identity card, record management, and rights of persons with disabilities, including access to education, health, employment, social security, rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. The bill also introduces the provision to allow special privileges and facilities on access to credit facilities for entrepreneurship, discount on public transportation, exemption from taxes and excise duty on the material that are useful for health, employment and education for people with disabilities. The Bill has been tabled at the parliament in order to consolidate the existing legal provision and introduce new ones to better protect and promote human rights of persons with disabilities.
"There are practical difficulties in issuing disability card for different categories of persons with disabilities,” said Om kumara Sanjen, from the Women and Children Office in Rautahat. “The Ministry should provide easy guidance to us in this regard, so that the disabled people get special privileges."
Chairperson of the Committee, Ranju Jha ensured participants that the committee will raise these concerns during the next deliberation of the Bill. She also assured to communicate the issues, especially those related to identity cards and social security allowance with the concerned minister for immediate action.
With the support from UNDP’s Parliament Support Project (PSP), the Parliamentary Committee will conduct similar consultations in other parts of Nepal and collect feedback on the proposed bill. Following the promulgation of the new constitution, UNDP’s PSP has been supporting a number of Parliamentary committees to strengthen their oversight and law making functions.