Prime Minister Hun Sen called on all local authorities to strengthen mechanisms to prevent discrimination against or offensive remarks to the disabled. They should be provided with equal opportunities and rights.

He made the call in a December 3 letter marking the 24th Cambodian Day for People with Disabilities and the 40th International Day of Persons with Disabilities with the theme: “Not all disabilities can be seen by the naked eye.”

The letter said that in the past two years, Cambodia has been negatively affected by the global crisis of Covid-19 and the global political and economic situation, and this had delayed formal celebrations of the occasion.

It added that although the government had not held formal events, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and the Disability Action Council had visited and provided gifts to many non-governmental associations and organisations who worked with the disabled. The visits demonstrated the government’s care for the disabled.

Hun Sen, who is also the honorary president of the Disability Action Council, said: “We will continue to care. We are committed to promoting the rights of disabled persons. I encourage all of our people to continue to promote the welfare of disabled persons and the best interests of the disability sector of Cambodia.”

He added that in order for a society to be inclusive, it is necessary to create equal opportunities for disabled persons in public life, political life, social activities, culture, arts, religion and sports.

“I ask that businesses increase handicap accessibility to meet market needs. I would also like to see more entrepreneurial opportunities for start-ups and businesses run by the disabled,” he said.

To celebrate this year's Cambodian and International Day of disabled persons, Hun Sen called on the Disability Action Council to continue implementing the law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the National Disability, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and all national and international policies that would serve the interests of the disabled community.

All ministries and state Institutions must encourage disabled persons who are qualified and able to fulfill their roles to apply for positions without fear of discrimination.

The private sector, civil society, factories, enterprises and all institutions should all be seeking to take a similar approach, he added.

“The Ministry of Information must instruct all public and private radio and television stations, as well as all media outlets, include sign language translation, especially regarding information on the Covid-19 pandemic, so that the deaf will receive information in a timely manner,” it said.

Hun Sen also called on all disabled person who recently turned 18 to register to vote.

He urged the athletes who would compete at the 12th ASEAN Para Games, which Cambodia will host, to train as hard as they could.

The year saw 3,748 people with disabilities working in 37 ministries and institutions, including 862 women and 2,260 people with severe disabilities. This represents a two per cent increase on last year.