Pakistan's Parliament Passes Landmark Law to Protect Rights of Disabled People

Pakistan’s Parliament Passes Landmark Law to Protect Rights of Disabled People

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Pakistan on Wednesday passed a new disability law through a joint session of parliament. Hoping to curb the discrimination against millions of Special Needs Pakistanis in the workplace specifically.

According to Human Rights Watch, there are almost 3.3 million to 27 million people living with disabilities in Pakistan. Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2011.

The law came after more than 5,200 Pakistanis signed a petition to hand over to parliament in December last year. The petition was part of the Equal World campaign, that launches in Pakistan by Sightsavers, the National Forum of Women with Disabilities, and the Community Based Inclusion Development Network (CBIDN).

Human rights minister Shireen Mazari break this news in a tweet

“Today we finally got our ICT Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill passed through Joint session. It has been an almost-2 year struggle but finally, the Bill has been passed by Parliament and will become law once President signs it.”

The new law covers areas like

  • Political participation of persons living with disabilities.
  • Equity in education and employment.
  • Equality before the law.
  • Ease of access and mobility.
  • Protection from violent, abusive, intolerant, and discriminatory behavior.

Supreme Court Orders

In July 2020, Pakistan’s Supreme Court also directed the federal and provincial governments to take the necessary steps. To fully realize the equal participation of persons with disabilities in society.

The court ruling was in response to a petition from a citizen who was denied a job. As an elementary school teacher in the city of Multan.

Moreover,the court has ordered that 2% of persons with disabilities should be employed in each tier of the establishment.

It said that the mere provision of employment was not sufficient. Moreover, Pakistani authorities also had the obligation to provide necessary and appropriate adjustments including accessible infrastructure, assistive technology, modifications to the work environment, and other forms of support so that people with disabilities, once appointed to a position, could effectively perform their job.

The Supreme Court also ordered the federal and provincial governments to discontinue the use of derogatory terms such as “disabled,” “physically handicapped,” and “mentally retarded”. Instead, use “persons with disabilities” or “persons with different abilities.”

Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments have a responsibility to not only implement the Supreme Court’s orders but to also reform laws and policies to ensure they are in complete conformity with the country’s international human rights obligations.

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