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VN pledges to guarantee disabled people's rights

Update: August, 30/2013 - 09:22
Viet Nam is ready to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) next year, confirmed the Deputy Minister for Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Nguyen Trong Dam.— File Photo

HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam is ready to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) next year, confirmed the Deputy Minister for Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Nguyen Trong Dam.

Viet Nam signed the CRPD in 2007 and has been carrying out the essential procedures and legal preparedness necessary to ratify it early next year, he told an ASEAN meeting on promoting the CRPD yesterday.

"People with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. Viet Nam has made huge strides forward in adopting policies and activities that support people with disabilities, however, many difficulties and challenges remain when promoting social welfare for this group," he said.

Social welfare programmes and projects have been carried out for millions of people with disabilities, but the outcomes have been limited due to a lack financial resources, said Dam.

The CRPD represents a major shift in the way that societies view people who live with disabilities, helping them to become the key decision maker in their own lives.

It transforms the disabled into "holders of rights" and "subjects of the law" with full participation in the policies which affect them, said the UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam, Lotta Sylwander.

To date, there are 155 signatories to the convention and 127 ratifications of the CPRD .

"I hope that today's meeting will help regional Governments to prepare for this senior level meeting and identify the type of strategies that are needed to ensure the inclusive development of people with disabilities in the Southeast Asian region," she said.

"In order to achieve that, full ratification of the convention is clearly a key foundation stone. Adopting last year's new Law on People with Disabilities, and developing the National Action Plan for 2012-2020 are also major milestones along the way," she added.

However, a representative from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs' Department of Legislation said that challenges remain for Viet Nam in ratifying the convention.

"The expense of implementing the convention will be a challenge for Viet Nam, as it is still struggling through the process of transforming its economy and many other priorities need addressing," he said.

"Public awareness of people with disabilities Is embedded with prejudice. Organising the implementation of activities, including monitoring and reporting, requires additional financial support and human resources," he said.

Meanwhile, the current legislation on persons with disabilities is restricted to persons with disabilities from the perspective of providing social welfare. This approach needs to be replaced by taking a perspective of human rights, with the main goal being providing people with equal opportunities, the same as others, while retaining nondiscrimination as the core objective, he said.

"The biggest challenge for Viet Nam is the large number of people with disabilities, against the low level of socio-economic development and poor living standards, therefore people with disabilities are limited when exercising their rights," he said.

He pointed to the need for the Government to introduce specific social and employment policies for people with disabilities to help address these issues.

Regarding vocational training for example, people with disabilities should be provided with free advice and be exempt from tuition fees or deductions.

Sharing Myanmar's experiences, a representative from Myanmar's Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, said that a proper national level committee on the rights of people with disabilities should be formed and the State should increase funding to the sector for the rehabilitation of disabled people.

At a regional level, more close cooperation is needed, with a network of regional organisations to gather sufficient financial and human resources to address these barriers, he said.

Viet Nam has around 6.7 million people with disabilities, accounting for 7.8 per cent of the country's population.

Globally, over 1 billion people, or 15 per cent of the world's population live with some form of disability, according to figures released by UNICEF. — VNS

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