Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Disabled see little from law

Disabled see little from law

Prime Minister Hun Sen greets people with disabilities
Prime Minister Hun Sen greets people with disabilities at a presentation marking the anniversary of a law aimed at protecting their rights last year at Koh Pich Island in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Disabled see little from law

In her younger years, the physical difficulties and discrimination she faced as a woman with disabilities led Phum Leakena to several suicide attempts.

Now 27, Leakena is working to encourage the government to exact legislation meant to protect the rights of Cambodians living with disabilities, she said yesterday.

In celebration of International Human Rights Day, the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO) is hosting an event at the Olympic Stadium featuring musical and comedic performances at 4:30pm today. But despite the government’s passing of a law for people with disabilities and its 2012 ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, organisers say the initiatives do little to help those with disabilities.

“I am happy to see the disability law protects disabled people, but I think it is not enforced yet,” said Leakena, a CDPO staffer who has a withered leg and is blind in one eye. “We . . . still lack implementation.”

As of July 2009, when the government passed the law protecting the rights of people with disabilities, 1.4 per cent of Cambodia’s nearly 14.5 million population were living with a handicap, the law says.

Under the law, 2 per cent of all new government hires are required to be people with disabilities, and all state-owned buildings must be handicap-accessible.

However, the government has since failed to live up to its employment quotas, and has largely ignored building accessibility requirements, according to CDPO executive director Ngin Saorath said.

“How can people enjoy their right to work when their working environment isn’t accessible?” Saorath asked. “There really needs to be action taken, not just talking.”

Saorath estimates that about 90 per cent of government buildings in Cambodia are currently not accessible.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Social Affairs’ Disabled Action Council, which monitors compliance, yesterday said the council could not comment.

UNDP spokesman Munthit Ker said the UN is helping CDPO spread awareness and supports further action to ensure equality for people with disabilities, and called for “a strong enforcement mechanism to address violations of the rights of persons with disabilities”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MOM KUNTHEAR

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen ready to ‘break record’, says Rainsy lost

    Caretaker prime minister Hun Sen used a meeting with 18,400 factory workers on Wednesday to predict that he would beat the record for being the world’s longest-serving non-royal leader. He also used the platform to slam political opponent Sam Rainsy who he said had lost

  • Sihanoukville land prices skyrocketing amid breakneck development

    Sihanoukville, the Kingdom’s most famous beach destination for tourists, is seemingly becoming a paradise for Chinese investors as well. The huge influx of Chinese investors has caused property values to rise, especially the price of land, which has nearly doubled in some places near

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by