NEWS: Roundtable Report on Disability Rights and Legislation in Bangladesh
Brief on Roundtable Discussion
‘Rights of people with disabilities:
Need for legal reforms and effective institutions’ at the Spectra Convention Centre in the city
A round table discussion held on ‘Rights of people with disabilities: Need for legal reforms and effective institutions’ held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on December 12, 2007 emphasizing the reforms of disability laws and developing the institutions working with disability effective. Action on Disability and Development (ADD) organized the meeting. The roundtable experienced discussions on two key note papers with disabilities issues dividing in two sessions i.e., 1st session was on ‘Rethinking Disability Welfare Act 2001 in the light of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Didsabilities’ (UN CRPD) and the 2nd one on ‘Making institutions working for persons with Disabilities more effective’.
The speakers opined that the lack of appropriate legal formulation and absence of materialization of existing laws direly throttle the development mechanism to betterment of the people with disability. They told the existing law titled ‘Disabled Welfare Act-2001’ is a useless act. The framework of the law is too weak to help establish the rights of persons with disabilities. Rights-based approach should be reflected in the legal framework concerning the persons with disability. The discussants also said as a signatory Bangladesh should reform the laws regarding disability complying the regulations of UN Conventions. Most of the speakers argued for a new draft of law, which should be consulted with lawyers and other groups working with disability.
The speakers told Institutional approach with sustainable development policy has mainly great impact for ensuring the changes the existing frustrated scenario of the persons with disability. They also added there looms lot of hindrances in Government, Semi-Government, and autonomous bodies formed for working with disability resulting the issue of development remains stagnant. Referring the structure of ministerial initiatives the speakers added that national and district Committees are inactive from its inception, so the development cycle of disability issues being deferred and virtually ignored. They also emphasized to make effective the National Disabled Development Foundation in the shape of PKSF (Rural Employment Foundation, which has wide effective programs).
Changes to disability needs poring over an integrated development interventions by the institutions in all spheres i.e., enact and amendment of laws, policy, education, rehabilitation, training, awareness, employment, research, empower the working organizations with services etc, emphasized the discussants. The crispy relation between the government and NGOs and other developing agencies can ensure medical services, education, employment, transportation and access to information for persons with disabilities.
The speakers suggested bringing out the persons with disability in mainstream strengthening the effectiveness of the institutions working with disability, Not only Government but NGOs, Like ADD and other multicultural bodies should come forward to boosting disability movement with continuous coordination and setting cohesion. They urged Government to replace the term ‘rights’ by ‘welfare’ in 2001 act, they also told to take disability issue as mainstream and should be dealt with systematic issue wise practices by the different ministries, not only by the ‘Social Welfare Ministry’. ‘Disability’ not an issue charity or welfare, rather it should be taken as an issue of entire development, the speakers strongly opined.
Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, Chairman Regulatory Reform Commission and Former Advisor, Caretaker Government and M. A. Hye Howlader, Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare were present as Chief Guests in 1st and 2nd sessions respectively, chaired by Hossain Zillur Rahman, Executive Chairman, Power and Participation Research Center (PPRC) and Dr. Naim Ahmed, Legal Adviser, ADD and Advoate, Bangladesh Supreme Court.
Mosharraf Hossain, Country Director, Action on Disability Development (ADD) and Dr. Abdullah Al Fauque, Chairman, Law Faculty, University of Chittagong presented the keynote papers in 1st and 2nd sessions respectively.
Besides these, Dr. Khondakar Showkat Hossain, Joint Secretary (Development) and Managing Director, National Disability Development Foundation, Monsur Ahmed Chowdhury, Chiarperson, Committee of National Policy and Legislation on Disability, NFOWD, Z I Khan Panna, Advocate Bangladesh Supreme Court, Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Exeutive Director, Transparency International Bangladesh, Ms. Rina Roy, Rights Director, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Mr. Tusher Wali, Country Director, Handicap International and Saidur Rahman, Rights Coordinator, ADD spoke at the roundtable meeting.
We Can Do received this report from Ghulam Nabi Nizimani; he received this text from Sikhander Ahmed who is with Action on Disability and Development.
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