15 Jun 2015 In Lebanon, the disabled face barriers to communication
Disability is a major topic in Lebanese society. Photo: arcenciel.aec
Around the world, disabled persons face varying barriers to full participation in society, including access to communication. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) came into force in 2008, representing decades of effort to improve the human rights protection for persons with disabilities.
In one of its country reports, Article 19, the London-based organization that promotes freedom of information worldwide, profiled the current environment for disabled persons in Lebanon. Article 19’s vision and principles are supported by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC).
Article 19’s report noted that the CRPD recognizes that civil and political rights, such as freedom of expression and the right to information, are a vital precondition in order for persons with disabilities to achieve their rights and overcome histories of exclusion.
“Persons with disabilities continue to face attitudinal and environmental barriers to participation in many areas of life. In order to challenge these barriers, persons with disabilities need to take political action,” said the report. That means they need to make strong arguments for change – and these arguments for change need to be based on information about government policies that contribute to their situation.
Lebanon has not yet ratified the CRPD, but it has made certain commitments in international law, under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention against Corruption, that require it to provide access to information to all its citizens, including people with disabilities, said Article 19.
In 2000, Lebanon adopted Law 220 on the Rights of Disabled Persons. It is mainly built around a set of rights integrating citizens with disabilities into social and economic life through employment, transport and housing quotas, and guarantees of health and educational services.
The law does not mention access to information. Its major contribution to political participation by persons with disabilities is its recognition of the National Council for Disability Affairs (the NCDA), with members elected by and from disabled persons’ organisations and persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, the NCDA frequently struggles to access information from other ministries.
While Law 220 makes important commitments to the rights of persons with disabilities, many of these commitments have not been fulfilled, because individuals with disabilities and Disabled Persons’ Organizations do not have adequate access to information about their rights and services.