Paulina Quintao – The President for the Special Olympics, Maria Domingas Fernandes Alves, said people with disabilities, including intellectual, vision, and hearing, and with other physical disabilities and impairments, need special attention and conditions to move and to be able to actively participate in society so there is a need for a National Council for People with Disabilities to advocate for issues affecting this community.
She said for example, people with intellectual disabilities will require special assistance with their health, with education and in other areas.
"I am always talking with them. We need to establish the National Commission for people with disabilities, to make them a priority because they are often left behind. It will be difficult to give them the same consideration as people without disabilities," she said during the celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities organized by the Special Olympics Organization at Hotel Luz Clarita, in Dili.
She said people with disabilities may face discrimination, but it should be positive discrimination not negative.
She added for example, women's organizations fought for equal rights to get involved in politics, so the 30% of gender quota was established to ensure women and men have the same rights.
She informed that the major obstacle facing people with disabilities is their movement, because there aren't facilities enabling their movement in public spaces.
On the other hand, the National Director for Social Assistance, Mateus da Silva, said the draft law on the establishment of the National Council for People with Disabilities has been completed, but has not been discussed and approved by the Council Ministers.
He said once the draft law is approved, the structure of the council will be formed to provide advocacy services on disability issues.
"We are now creating certain conditions, including for the establishment of the National Council and to ratify the international convention on persons with disabilities," he said.
He informed that the government has managed to develop a policy of inclusion, and for the promotion and protection of persons with disabilities, which will serve as a guideline for advocacy on disability with line ministries and to be considered in their plans and programs.
According to the Population and Housing Census of 2015, there are over 38,000 people living with disabilities in Timor-Leste.