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Rejecting Violations: we Fight for Inclusion

2014-05-16

Ra’ad bin Zeid

 

Like all the Jordanians, I felt pain and shock by what I read and saw through the media report in Al-Ghad newspaper and what the BBC channel has shown on violations against citizens with disabilities in some special education centers.

 

What we witnessed is a flagrant violation of basic human rights; therefore, we reject these irresponsible acts. We are against them, and we reject them categorically.

 

What happened is a humanitarian appeal to and a reminder of our need to work collaboratively and to harness all the efforts of governmental and non-governmental institutions, because we at the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities strive to put an end to increased institutionalization. We have fought against this and continue to do so. We want our brothers with disabilities to practice their right to live with their brothers, families, neighbors and friends, provided that this right is not conditional or linked to the person's disability. We refuse the violation of the rights of persons with disabilities in these centers: no one should be placed in this humiliating environment. Despite that, we were surprised that the report did not touch upon any recommendations that support the removal of persons with disabilities from institutions to include them in their society. This is what we are fighting for; we ask that they not be placed in these institutions in accordance with the articles and items of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities No. (31) of 2007.

 

In August 2010, we began working on our policy that dictates the inclusion of our brothers with disabilities. We cooperated with an international organization and the Ministry of Social Development, with the support of the United States Agency for Development (USAID) to establish the first two collective homes in Karak. Through this initiative we have reintegrated 12 young people into independent homes. They got jobs, and they practice their daily lives like other individuals of society. We are also working with the Ministry to train the staff through qualifying and rehabilitation programs, including (day-to-day rehabilitation) as a first step towards integration.

 

This unique achievement has proven that equal opportunity exists, but it needs appropriate qualification so that Jordanian citizens with disabilities can live in dignity, practice their daily lives and obtain their basic rights.

 

His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, God bless him, issued directives to the government to form a committee whose task is to inquire into the violations mentioned in the report. This confirms the King's concern about the dignity of Jordanian citizens. We support this noble approach as a royal and a humanitarian step worthy of thanks and commendation.

 

Concerning the implementation of monitoring procedures, these have been adopted by institutions in accordance with the accreditation criteria for the programs of the institutions of persons with disabilities in Jordan. This is in addition to the accreditation criteria of institution programs and programs for persons with intellectual disabilities which were developed by the Higher Council in cooperation with the British Embassy and the British Council in Amman. It was launched in July 2009, and the concerned ministries have signed a commitment to implement these criteria. The national institutions that have adopted these criteria should enforce them as a first and essential step if we are to address these violations. Although this issue affects people who deal with disability issues, it also concerns anyone even if not directly involved in the case.

 

Duty dictates to us as citizens with a sense of belonging to this nation and to its wise leadership to invest in human beings, who are our most precious resources. We have to challenge these acts not only with words and feelings, but also by organizing appeals and promises to ensure that all citizens with disabilities assume their roles and positions in society despite their disabilities or their limited capabilities.