Asean Members Called On to Ratify Disability Rights Treaty

Just days before the Asean Summit starts in Phnom Penh next week, rights workers yesterday encouraged countries in the Asean region to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Per­sons with Disabilities.

So far, six Asean countries—Thailand, Laos, Burma, Indone­sia, Malaysia and the Philip­pines—have ratified the treaty, which em­phasizes nondiscrimination and equality of opportunity for the disabled, mainly in areas of employment, education and health.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Phnom Penh, Sao­walak Thonghkuay, regional development officer for Disabled People Asia Pacific, said it is im­portant for all Asean member countries to ratify the treaty so that people with disabilities have more of a voice.

“We hope the rest of the Asean countries will ratify soon so that disabled people in all 10 countries can…provide guidelines to implement the convention in ways particular to each Asean country,” Ms. Thonghkuay said.

“We hope Cambodia will ratify the treaty this year in its Asean chairmanship, and are making this meeting to encourage the government in the ratification process,” she added.

In 2009, Cambodia enacted a law that requires public institutions with more than 100 employees to employ at least 2 percent disabled people, and similarly sized private companies to employee at least 1 percent disabled workers.

According to the National Cen­­ter for Disabled People, more than 10,000 disabled people in the country are struggling to find employment.

Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng said Cambodia would soon ratify the convention. “Cambodia signed the Con­vention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Oct. 1, 2007, and now is in the process of the ratification,” he said.

Ngin Soarath, executive director of Cambodia Disabled Peo­ple’s Organization, said the convention was currently at the Council of Ministers

“It is important for the Cam­bodian government to show its commitment to the rights of people with disability,” he said.


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