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DWG demands TL government ratify convention on the rights of the disabled

Dili Weekly - January 30, 2014

Paulina Quintao – The Disability Working Group (DWG) Timor-Leste President, Joaquin Soares, demands the Government of Timor-Leste ratify the International Convention on the Rights of the Disabled so the rights of Timorese living with disability are protected.

He said the convention serves as a guide to the government so it can develop adequate policies and programs and it will assist the government budget assistance to some 48.243 Timorese living with disability (based on the 2010 family Census).

"Our recommendation is that the international convention be signed. The convention is very important so we can implement the goals contained in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's)," said DWG President Soares, in Dili.

He also noted the government already developed a national policy on disability and a strategic plan to be implemented across all areas; in health, education, vocational training and employment, social assistance, justice, sports and culture, information and communication as well as gender equality.

He urged the National Parliament to allocate sufficient funds to relevant institutions implementing the policy's priority areas.

The DWG also called on the Ministry of Social Solidarity to work together with the National Statistics Directorate and conduct a specific country-wide survey to identify the total number of Timorese living with disability and the types of disability.

Meanwhile Gaspar Afonso, who lives with a disability, is proud at least of some leaders who are committed to paying attention to the situation and challenges faced by the disabled in the country.

He believes those living with a disability are the most vulnerable in society so they need the moral, technical and financial support from the government in order to be able to contribute towards national development.

"Our minds are not disabled. We will continue to urge and ask you to give us our rights. We will be happy when we are allowed to enjoy our rights." In response to these concerns and appeals, the Minister of Social Solidarity (MSS), Isabel AmaralGuterres, said she will call meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look into the issue of Timor-Leste ratifying and signing the International Convention on the Rights of the Disabled.

"There is commitment to sign and ratify the international convention on disability and to establish a national commission for monitoring and ensuring its implementation is adequate," said Minister Guterres.