Group: Amend Constitution To Outlaw Disability-Based Discrimination

Harapan OKU Law Reform Group also suggested a task force to oversee the review of the Persons With Disabilities Act 2008.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 – A group advocating disability rights has urged the government to amend the Federal Constitution to explicitly prohibit discrimination on grounds of disability.

Harapan OKU Law Reform Group also called upon the government to work on amending the Persons With Disabilities (PWD) Act 2008, saying it has failed to uphold the rights of PWD in Malaysia.

“The PWD Act also fails to be fully in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), to which Malaysia has been a state party for more than 11 years,” Harapan OKU Law Reform Group said in a statement that was endorsed by 113 civil society groups.

The group further stated that Malaysia has not once submitted its country report to the UN since it ratified the CRPD on July 19, 2010; has yet to withdraw its reservations to Article 15 (freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and Article 18 (liberty of movement and nationality) of the CRPD; and has also not ratified the Optional Protocol to the CRPD.

The group is requesting amendments in the PWD Act 2008 in six areas, which include broadening the definition of disability to more than seven categories; defining “discrimination” and “harassment”; as well as providing remedies in the event of discrimination and harassment.

The group also asked the government to repeal Sections 41 and 42 of the PWD Act that protect the government and public servants and their representatives from being sued when they fail to fulfill their legal duties and obligations towards persons with disabilities.

Furthermore, Harapan OKU Law Reform Group suggested the formation of an independent commission, accountable to Parliament, to monitor the implementation of the PWD Act and systematically advance the mainstreaming of disability inclusion in all ministries and at all levels of government.

They also want a tribunal established to handle cases involving infringement of disability rights.

“The abovementioned amendments of the six areas were presented at the government town hall held on June 26 with a suggestion that the government set up a task force to address those issues. We thank Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh for agreeing to look into these suggestions,” said the group.

The group further urged Dr Wan Azizah, Deputy Prime Minister and Women, Family and Community Development Minister, to work with Harapan OKU and other civil society stakeholder groups to set up, without further delay, the Special Task Force to work on a review of the PWD Act 2008.

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