Article

Lebanese PwDs are still Marginalized and Excluded

Imadeddine Raef & Jana El-Husseini

F.H. a 42-year-old physically disabled man from Aramoun uses the taxicab to cross the street. “I can’t use the sidewalk, because it’s inaccessible. I am facing a double barrier; both built environment and public transport are still inaccessible for persons with disabilities”. He said.

Disability Monitor[1] website has received a complaint questionnaire from R.K., a twenties physically disabled man, “My life insurance application was denied by the insurance company. I have completed and submitted all Medical examinations to the Insurance agent, but he refused my application without mentioning any reason which I think it is disability related reasons”, he added. “The aforementioned American insurance company wouldn’t deny my application if I submitted it in the United States territories, so why they were allowed to do so in the Lebanese territories?” the young disabled man complained. According to complaint questionnaires, both men are being marginalized as four hundred thousand citizens with disabilities in Lebanon. 

 

The Most Important Rights

 

The ratification on the UNCRPD[2] and the issuance of the implementation decrees of the Law 220/2000[3] has become more than an urgent need for people with disabilities in Lebanon. However, The Lebanese ‘National Interest’ government toppled two previous ministerial statements which addressed the issue of the rights, without mentioning the ratification on the UNCRPD. On the other hand, The ‘Development and Improvement Government’ ministerial statement mentioned in December 2009 that the government will work on ‘Lebanon’s adherence to the UNCRPD and its optional protocol, and insisted on the need of full respect for the rights of people with disabilities set forth in the Lebanese laws, mainly the Law 220/200 and an urgent execution of its implementation decrees’, but the aforesaid government broke the promise. While ‘All of us! For our Country, for our Glory and Flag’ government promised on the 6th of July 2011 that ‘It will be concerned about people with disability needs and ensure their rights through several steps including the issuance of the implementation decrees of the law 220/2000 and the ratification on the international agreements related to people with disabilities’, but this was not put into practice, especially when the former Lebanese Prime Minister Mr.Mikati granted people with disability an overdosed promises and announced the 2013 a year for an active implementation of the Law 220/2000, where no results were shown. Yet the UNCRPD was approved eight years ago by the Government led by Prime Minister Fouad Al Siniora and was submitted along with 70 different laws, where a political debate occurred regarding its “constitutionality”. Therefore, Lebanon has not ratified yet on the UNCRPD, leaving behind citizens with disabilities.

 

Shadow Reports[4]

The Lebanese DPOs have highlighted these issues and submitted shadow reports to the United Nations-Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in the frame of the Universal Periodic Review[5] cycle in the United Nations Office in Geneva (see UPR 2010 and 2015), Lebanon is officially being represented this year during the 10th session on the 2nd of November 2015 at the Human Right Council[6].

LPHU[7] as an executive acting on behalf of “Lebanese Disability Coalition” and “Lebanese Disability Forum”, has participated in the Press conference that was held by the NGO coalition in the Press Club in Beirut, on 23rd of July 2015. The conference aimed at launching the joint reports which was prepared in the frame of the UPR scheduled for next November.

Moreover, DPOs’ paper indicated that despite the fact that the law 220/2000 was issued fifteen years ago, however, the relevant ministries didn’t issue yet its implementation decrees, due to the following reasons:

  • Lack of public vision, or a national policy, or a general strategy for the implementation of the law and reach for having equal opportunities in society.
  • The absence of the inclusive criteria for the ministries’ structures, departments, boards, and decisions; and the lack of awareness in the public sector towards the issues of disability and the rights and needs of PWD.
  • The absence of disability issues from local development agendas, or the standards of the studies, public or official social statistics.
  • The absence of coordination between the concerned ministries in implementing the law which wastes the opportunities for its implementation.
  • The absence of the basic needs of PWD from the general budget, which makes implementation of the law in the labor, education, health and inclusive environment rights, as well as the civil and political rights aren’t provided.
  • Inability to access information, and the absence of transparency of the information provided by the ministries.

 

Unfortunately, the Lebanese government continues its negligence regarding the ratification on the UNCRPD and upgrading the current local legislations in order to make appropriate for the implementation process.

Due to this fact, People with disabilities who constitute 20 percent of the world’s population, equivalent to 400 thousand citizens are still facing marginalization, exclusion and deprivation of their basic rights including health, employment, education, non-discrimination (accessibility and political rights), in addition to, Palestinians and Syrians refugees with disabilities rights.

 

There are two main recommendations made in the report, first, Lebanese government should ratify immediately on the UNCRPD, Second, relevant stakeholders should develop the national laws to ensure all the rights of PWDs and to legislate specific necessary policies and procedures so that people with disabilities have the inherent right to respect for their human dignity.

 

 

[1] “Disability Monitor" is an initiative of the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union, National Inclusion Network and other Disabled People`s Organizations in Lebanon, in partnership with Ministry of Social Affairs, with the support of "Diakonia".

[2] United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) is the human rights convention concerning persons with disabilities. It is a list of rights guaranteed to persons with disabilities to improve their access to society, education and employment.

[3] country’s Parliament passed Law for the rights of persons with disabilities

[4] Shadow reporting is an important tool for NGOs supporting  human rights. By submitting a shadow report to a UN treaty body committee, NGOs can highlight issues not raised by their governments or point out where the government may be misleading the committee from the real situation.

[5] The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

[6] The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.

[7] Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union is a grassroots  advocacy organization for the rights of persons with disabilities in Lebanon founded in 1981

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